Move Judgment to the Back Burner

judgment: the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions

I am working on moving my natural tendency to judge to the back burner. This is a big step because for years I have been encouraged and rewarded on my "good" judgment.  I now believe this is an overrated skill. Judgment requires us to carefully evaluate a situation and make a solid decision based on all the facts. But, with age and cumulative life experiences I have found it’s surprisingly easy to take in just enough facts to reach a decision and get stuck there. In fact, studies show that once we form an opinion we begin to unconsciously filter out any new, contradictory information. This is known as confirmation bias and it causes us to only notice those things that confirm our conscious and unconscious expectations. We only see what we want to see. Once we form a judgment we begin to filter out any contradictory information.

Judging a person too quickly or assessing a new situation upon first inspection carries a very high risk of closing us off from new information. Our own desire to be right creates tunnel vision and blinds us. Growth, innovation, development, and progress only occur when we're open and inquiring. Being too quick to judge may make us feel confident, but that requires a filter that can eliminate new possibilities.

So what's the antidote? It’s simple, but not easy: stay curious. Become sensitive to the assumptions you use to fill in missing facts. Ask questions to gain more information, lean in to learn more about people and suspend initial impressions. Be willing to risk having your judgments unravel and relish forming fresh opinions when new information is presented. Try to avoid patting yourself on the back too much and instead open your arms to learn more.