How to Be Less Judgmental

Three Parts:Embracing New PeopleChanging Your PerspectiveBroadening Your Horizons

If you're worried about being judgmental, then you may think you know how everyone should look, think, and act. Though it can be comforting to think you know everything, being judgmental can keep you from making new friends, embracing new experiences, and, well, from having people think you're a nice person. If you want to learn how to accept new people on their own terms and how to be more open-minded, then it's time to do some work to be less judgmental. Stop judging and read on!

Part 1
Embracing New People

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    Put yourself in the person's shoes. This is the hardest thing to do and perhaps the most important. When you meet a new person, try to understand where that person is coming from. Maybe that person is extra needy because her mother never gave her love, growing up; maybe that person is a bit withdrawn because he grew up in a foster home and has a hard time making connections. Maybe that person just got some really bad news and doesn't feel like being super friendly. Though you won't know the circumstances of a person you just met, be open to the possibility that the person has gone through something you can't even fathom.
    • Every person is an individual and a product of different circumstances. Until you know the person better, who are you to say what the person is really like?
    • Think about it. Would it be fair for the person to judge you based on talking to you for five minutes? How much could the person really learn about you in such a short amount of time?
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    Try to learn something from every new person. Remind yourself that even if you meet a person who is completely different from you (or so you think), every person can teach you something new. Maybe the person speaks three foreign languages. Maybe he is a painter and just taught you something about Picasso. Maybe he has run five marathons and has some great tips for runners who are just starting out. Instead of thinking that talking to a new person is a waste of time, ask yourself, "What can I learn from this person?"
    • You may not be able to learn anything from a person you've just met, but if you spend more time with almost anyone, you'll see that you'll be broadening your horizons.
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    Ask lots of questions. If you want to get to know a person for real, then you have to learn more about where he's coming from. Does he have siblings? What is he studying or doing for a living? What does he like to do on the weekends? Though you shouldn't pry too much and ask 80 million questions at once without giving anything back, asking just a few questions when you meet a new person can help you understand where he's coming from.
    • You may be too concerned with looking good or coming off like you're right that you may not even stop to ask yourself, "Who is this person I'm talking to?"
    • If the person is really shy, then you can tone down the questions. But showing a simple curiosity toward a new person can make him or her more receptive to you.
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    Don't judge a person based on appearance. Easier said than done, right? You meet a person who is covered in tattoos or who is wearing tight clothing, and naturally, you make some kind of assumption about the kind of person this person really is. The next time you meet a person and think you have him or her pinned down in the first five seconds, take a moment to slow down, and be extra non-judgmental as you try to understand what the person is really like.
    • Sure, people like to look a certain way to represent a way of thinking or a lifestyle, but that doesn't mean that you can learn everything you need to know about a person based on his appearance.
    • Take a look at yourself in the mirror. Do you think a person can figure out everything about you just by looking at you?
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    Don't listen to what other people say about this person. This is another way we tend to judge other people. If you've met a new person but have heard some gossip or negative information about him or her, then set it aside and try to pretend that you've heard nothing about this person: give him a clean slate. After all, he might have heard some bad stuff about you, too, and it's not fair to judge you based on what other people have said, right?
    • Take the person on his or her own terms. You may find that other people were just talking trash about the person because they were jealous, clueless, or just because they had some other motives that have nothing to do with saying anything accurate about the person.
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    Look for common ground. Finding common ground with a new person is a great way to stop yourself from judging the person. We tend to judge people because we think, "Oh, I am talking to this type of person, and obviously, we have nothing at all in common." It's easy to feel intimidated or just flustered by a new person because we think that not only can we not possibly understand him or her, but that the person couldn't possibly understand us.
    • Combat this line of thinking by trying as many angles as you can to see if you have something in common, whether it's your alma mater, your favorite sports team, your hobbies, or your love for your pet kitties.
    • Casually mention a few topics until you find something that you can both talk about and be interested in. Once you see that you and this person aren't so different, then you will be much less likely to judge him or her.
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    Give every person more than one chance. Judgmental people don't give people a chance at all. If you want to be less judgmental, then you should try to give every person you meet at least two chances, if not more. Maybe the person was having a really bad day, maybe the person was distracted, or maybe the person just didn't give a good social performance. We've all been there, thinking we walked away from a social situation looking stupid. So, give the new person the benefit of the doubt and tell yourself you won't think any negative thoughts about the person and will try again another time.
    • A lot of people are also really shy and may come off as distant or stuck-up. If you hang out with the person more than once, he or she will open up to you a bit more.

Part 2
Changing Your Perspective

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    Embrace positive thinking. Part of the reason you may be judgmental is because you may be a negative thinker. Do you look for the negative aspects of every situation and love to criticize instead of praise? If so, then you have to turn your perspective around so that you're thinking positively about yourself, the world, and the people in it. The next time you have a negative thought, ask yourself if you're not just being dramatic or looking at the worst-case scenario in every situation. Instead, focus on the positive things in your life and let them push your negative thoughts aside.
    • Every time you have a negative thought, fight it with three positive thoughts.
    • Sure, everyone has bad days, and you're allowed to think negatively when it's necessary, but if you make a habit of doing this, then you'll be making yourself a less happy person, and one who is much more likely to judge.
    • Remind yourself of the best that can happen in any situation instead of the worst. This will put you in a more positive mindset.
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    Notice when you're judging. You can nip your judgment in the bud by monitoring your own thoughts and noticing whenever you have an irrational and judgmental thought about another person. You can pinch yourself or come to a halt if you're walking when you do this to emphasize the negative repercussions of judging other people. When you catch yourself thinking something like, "That girl needs to lose some weight," or "That guy really needs a breath mint," ask yourself how thinking horrible things about other people is really benefiting you.
    • Whenever you catch yourself judging another person, compensate for it by thinking of one positive thing about that person. Surely you can come up with one positive thing if you can come up with so many negative ones!
    • As you grow more and more accustomed to monitoring your judgmental thoughts, you'll begin to have less and less of them.
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    Stop your addiction to being right. One of the reasons that you may be so judgmental is because you are convinced that you are right 100% of the time. Slowly, get used to the fact that you may only be right 90% of the time...or 80%, or 50%, or even only 10% of the time. Every person has his own ideas about how the world should work, and many times, those ideas are in conflict. Who are you to say that you're the one who really knows what's going on, just because you've maybe read more, gotten a good education, or just because you're utterly convinced that you can do no wrong?
    • The next time you engage in a debate or are utterly convinced that you are right, remind yourself that the other person may be just as likely as you are to have a valid opinion.
    • Remember that most situations are complicated and can't even be judged on what is "right" and "wrong" -- there are many shades of gray.
    • If you're less committed to sounding like you're right all of the time, you'll be more likely to stop judging people for their own opinions.
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    Stop labeling every person you see. Labeling people is a great way to make sure that you will always be judgmental and never give people the benefit of the doubt. Stop looking at people as Goths, Preps, Rich Kids, Stoners, Popular Kids, or whatever other title you can slap on them and try to see each person as an individual instead of as belonging to a group you may know nothing about. Learn to see past a person's appearance or the people he or she hangs out with, and focus on getting that person's individual story before you jump to conclusions.
    • Think about it. Would you want someone to take one look at you and say, "Oh, I know exactly what kind of a person he or she is..."? Of course not.
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    Stop gossiping about other people. If you want to stop being so judgmental, then you have to cut back on the gossip. Gossiping just spreads ill will and makes people form judgments about one another without really knowing the real story. Plus, if you develop a reputation as a gossip, people will like coming to you for juicy tidbits about other people, but they won't really be able to trust you.
    • The next time you open your mouth to say something negative about someone, flip it around and say something positive. Instead of saying, "Did you hear that Annie hooked up with Jason last night?" say, "Did you know that Annie is an amazing artist? You should see one of her paintings sometime..." Think about how much better you'll feel about spreading goodwill.
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    Show compassion. Being compassionate is the opposite of being judgmental. Instead of judging people and thinking bad thoughts about them, try to empathize with a person and to really try to imagine what that person is thinking or feeling. It won't be easy to go from thinking bad things about people and wanting the best for them, but this transition is not impossible. Focus on wanting to give people what they need and to help them out instead of wanting the worst for them.
    • Compassion is also one key to happiness. If you want to be a more compassionate person, then you have to have positive feelings toward people and the world.
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    Be more open-minded. Having a more open-minded perspective is a must if you want to be less judgmental. Being open-minded means being open to new things, being accepting of other cultures and ways of life, and being up for anything instead of saying no to the things that make us slightly uncomfortable. Work on being more-open minded by reading more, getting more information about every subject, and asking other people lots of questions to understand their perspectives instead of thinking you are always right.
    • Being open-minded, like being less judgmental, takes a lot of hard work and effort. You'll have to overcome your prejudices over time.

Part 3
Broadening Your Horizons

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    Step out of your comfort zone. Part of the reason that you are judgmental is because you're used to doing things a certain way, and that you cannot imagine that someone else can do it completely differently and still be a reasonable, sane, person. So this is precisely why you have to stop your normal routine and try to do things a little differently to see all the avenues that it opens up. Here are some ways to step out of your comfort zone:
    • Break up your routine. Stop having breakfast at the same time every single day and take a new route to work.
    • Do something that scares you. Stand on top of a tall building, go mountain climbing, or eat raw fish.
    • If you're shy, work on being more outgoing. Sure, it will be uncomfortable at first, but you will learn a lot about other people.
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    Travel as much as you can. Traveling can broaden your horizons and show you how other people live all over the world. If you don't have a big budget, you can travel to the next town or take a weekend trip to the next state. You can stay in hostels when you travel; the less money you spend, the more authentic the experience will be. What's important is that you'll see that there are an infinite amount of ways to live your life and that no one person is right about what to say or do.
    • Make a goal of traveling at least once a year. This will take you out of your comfort zone and will expose you to a variety of people.
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    Spend a day with another friend's family. Just spending one day with another friend and his or her family, whether you're over for dinner or movie night or going to a casual family picnic, will help you see that other families operate in completely different ways from yours. You may find that your friend has a more or less traditional family than you do, and that will make you see that you should take a minute to think before the next time when you judge another person for how he was raised or how he acts.
    • Just opening yourself up to new experiences and new people will already help you broaden your horizons and will make you less likely to judge people from different backgrounds.
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    Attend an event that would normally not appeal to you. Do you think a poetry reading, salsa dancing class, or a political rally sounds absolutely boring, stupid, or lame? Perfect! Attend the event with an open mind and be prepared to learn something new. Doing this once will let you meet more different people, understand different perspectives, and will also make you more likely to do something that will open your mind in the future.
    • Look around the room without judging the people who are there. It's likely that you will be the one who stands out, and you don't want them judging you, do you?
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    Hang out with a diverse group of people. Making an effort to hang out with people who are different from you in many ways can help open up your mind. Whether your friends are different because of their race, interests, class, ideas, hobbies, careers, or whatever else, being around people who come from a variety of backgrounds and have a variety of perspectives can help you have a better sense of all of the ideas that are out in the world.
    • You don't have to recruit friends of a variety of backgrounds, but you should make an effort to get to know more people who aren't exactly like you. You'll only grow from the experience.
    • Befriending someone you always thought you had nothing in common with can help you be more understanding and open-minded.
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    Feel gratitude. If you make gratitude a regular practice in your life, then you will be less likely to judge others who may be lacking many of the things that make your life so great. Be grateful for your wonderful friends, your family, your health, your opportunities, and your relationships, and before you judge anyone, think about how many of these things that person might be lacking, or how fortunate you are compared to all of the people in the world.
    • Sure, you might be smarter or more exciting than the average person, but that may be because of all of the opportunities you have -- like the chance to browse the Internet whenever you want.
    • Before you want to say something negative about a person you don't really know, take a deep breath and remind yourself of how lucky you are to be you, and how much you'd like to share that luck with others instead of bringing them down.


  • Avoid gossiping whenever you can.
  • Remember that everyone is different


  • Live YOUR life and not someone else's.
  • Being judgmental can really hurt feelings

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Categories: Managing Negative Feelings | Personal Development