The Joseph Group

Three Reasons We Should Be Slow To Judge

November 17, 2015

What do you consider a key leadership quality? Michael Hyatt, author and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, states decisiveness is always high on his list. The ability to quickly size up a situation and act is essential. But sometimes we can be too fast. And that’s especially true when it comes to criticism.

Identifying what’s wrong with a situation – including the attitude and actions of the people involved – is absolutely necessary in business and the rest of our lives. But if we’re too quick, we risk misjudging and harming those people. Criticism is like medicine, it all depends on administration and dose. But here’s the problem: If we’re quick to judge, we’re upping the odds that we’ll misdiagnose and seriously hurt someone.

With that in mind, there are at least three reasons we should be slow to judge:

1. We Sometimes Don’t Have the Full Story
How often do we judge before we have all the facts? Something hits us the wrong way, and we jump to criticize. News, commentary, and social media accelerate this reaction till it’s almost reflexive for some of us. But do we know all the relevant details? Even more problematic, do we know the motivations behind what’s happened?
Before we make a move, we should make certain we have enough information. If circumstances force us to move without all the details, we should be humble, open to correction, and ready to change our opinion.
2. We Often Project Our Own Issues
We all have hang-ups, faults, and pet peeves. And because we’re so familiar with our own issues, we tend to notice them everywhere we turn, even – especially – in others. As C.S. Lewis said about pride, “The more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.
When we don’t have the full story, we often fill in the blanks with our own issues. It’s unconscious, but suddenly we’ve assigned motives and condemned someone when we are really just imagining things.
3. We Usually Regret It Later
Reason number three flows from the first two. If we realize our misdiagnosis, regret comes next. In social media, relationships are less involved. But that doesn’t mean that the results of misjudging are less important. For one, we can unfairly damage someone’s reputation.
And that goes for us, too. If we get it wrong time and again, we’re building a reputation as someone whose judgment is worthless. “Life and death are in the power of the tongue,” Solomon said. We can’t be too careful how we use it.

Source: Hyatt, Michael. ‘3 Reasons We Should Be Slow To Judge’. Michael Hyatt, Intentional Leadership, 2015