Trying not to rush to make judgment

I am sure you have had this happen to you.  You meet someone and you immediately form an opinion.  For some of you this does not happen so quickly, but for many of us who are wired in a certain way we see cues and behaviors and we rush to put someone into a box or category.  I have seen it happen many times in my life and I suspect you have too.

While I am somewhat a believer that the first impression is the correct impression, I have also had a number of occasions in my life where the first impression was COMPLETELY  WRONG and way off base.

Now that I have the advantage of experience and perspective, I thought it might be good to write a little about this and offer a few suggestions to myself and other about how not to let your mind “short circuit” the rest of your life with you jumping to conclusions.

Here are a few quick thoughts about how you might temper your quick opinion:

    1. Don’t feel to answer of respond immediately-I know that I have always been one who likes to process quickly and respond as soon as possible.  In many occasions my first opinion may not be completely valid and I have learned to “hold back” my first thoughts so that I do not do or say something that I may regret later.  Context or surroundings can have a large impact on how we view or judge others in our lives.  Someone may look like a world beater in one context and then look like a dud in another.  Try to see someone in multiple lights before you make a judgment or determination.  I had a priest in my childhood who told us to “not judge a man until you walk two moons in his moccasins”.  Don’t take this too literally, but see that there is wisdom in taking time to form an opinion.  
    2. Gain perspective by asking for input from others-I have learned, sometimes the hard way, that getting perspective from others can be a lifesaver before making a decision on another.  As I mentioned in the earlier statement there are caveats or context that make others look great or lacking.  These things need to be taken into account.  Speed is important, but speed also kills.  Understand how much time you have to form your opinion before you jump out on the limb.   
    3. Use empathy before you decide-Put yourself into someone else’s shoes or situation.  What would you do?  How would you react?  What is your/their purpose?  There are times when I don’t take the time to fully reflect before moving ahead and engaging that big mouth of mine.  I try hard now (thanks to the marital sandpaper in my life, Gena) to think before I speak.  It is hard, alas, but I think I am better than I once was.

So there you have it, three quick steps to help you form opinions and judgments before moving ahead.  It is not the most comprehensive list, but it is a good starting point.

Each of us has to make decisions and judgments on a daily basis.  Do you best to get the total picture before you make your decision.

You will be glad you did.