They say you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover and that looks can be deceiving. But living in a world where many first impressions are made using a profile picture or selfie, how can you not judge someone based on their appearance alone? It’s nearly impossible to fight those basic instincts but it’s how you react to these instincts that sets you apart from the rest of the judgmental assholes. And here’s how it’s done.
Think Before You Speak/Act
Your parents always told you to think before you act or speak. And as much as we hate to admit when our parents are right, in this case, they were right. Biting your tongue is an art that should be practiced and perfected by anyone trying to shake judgmental behaviors. Do you make sweeping assumptions about people based on their looks alone? If someone isn’t wearing designer clothing, do you automatically peg them as poor? If someone is overweight, do you instantly decide it’s because they’re lazy and don’t care about their health? As “natural” as these reactions might be, it doesn’t make them right. Remind yourself to stop and really think about what you’re about to say or do based on this initial assessment. Give yourself a chance to retract those negative thoughts and replace them with more positive ones.
Look Past the Negative
The best way to expel negative, judgmental thoughts is to replace them with positive ones. This isn’t always easy, but with enough practice you’ll learn to see the good in people and look past the bad. How can you truly judge someone before they even open their mouths? On the flip side, have you ever instantly warmed up to someone based on looks alone? Assuming that this person must be kind and considerate because they have a warm smile or are well-dressed? Only to find they were a truly a devil in disguise? This goes to show you that looks aren’t everything. Take the time to get to know someone before deciding whether or not they’re worth your time. Developing an emotional connection with someone is often more intimate than a strictly physical one. If this is true, then it’s your emotions that should help guide your decisions, not your eyes.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
This is another piece of advice that we often shrug off from our parents only to find it holds deeper meaning as we enter adulthood. Treat others how you want to be treated. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes will help you feel more compassionate and less judgmental about their appearance. We’ve all had a bad hair day, overindulged on holiday break or neglectfully skipped laundry day, leaving us with a less than stellar outward appearance. You know when you’re having an “off” day and the last thing you need is awkward stares or snide remarks reminding you of your shortcomings. Well, no one else needs that shit either. Think of how you’d feel if someone treated you poorly simply because you looked a little sloppy that day or were carrying an extra 10 pounds. No matter the outer shell, we’re all human on the inside with feelings and egos and sensitivities. So, just think, would you want someone writing you off based on looks alone?
Remember, No One Knows What Goes on Behind Closed Doors
Maybe the sleeping man that you see on the train each morning is napping between jobs to support his family and not passed out drunk or high like you assumed. Perhaps that girl at school is wearing shoes with holes in them because she lent her better pair to her sister. Without finding out more information, you can’t make a conclusion about someone’s circumstance based strictly on the way they look. There are countless reasons why someone might not be wearing makeup or has dirty teeth or fingernails. Just because you have excellent medical coverage and a fully stocked cosmetic bag, doesn’t mean everyone is so fortunate. Judging someone based on their looks, without even considering the reason for their circumstance, reflects poorly on your character. Most decisions in life require more than a few seconds to make. Let’s be honest. It takes probably takes you at least 10 minutes just to decide what I want for lunch! So, remember, every person you encounter is an individual with a story and a background that has shaped their current circumstance. Try to consider this before making a judgment call.
Give Them the Benefit of the Doubt
Give someone the chance to prove you wrong. Does your new employee or coworker look like a criminal? Are they covered in tattoos with piercings and a rough exterior? Maybe that person grew up in a dangerous neighborhood where they had to portray themselves a certain way to survive. You won’t truly know their work ethic until you see them in action. So before you write someone off, let them show you what they’re made of. Just showing up to work is step one. Are they punctual? Do they offer to work extended hours or go above and beyond their job description? Hard workers, and good people, come in all shapes, sizes, colors, gender, and from all walks of life. If you think you have someone figured out and you know the type of person they are, put your money where your mouth is. Give them the benefit of the doubt and the chance to prove you right or wrong. You might be surprised by the amazing person hiding just beneath the surface.
Think About How Your Reaction Will Make You Feel (Be Selfish)
Beyond how your negative comments or reactions might make the other person feel, think about how you’ll feel after acting in a judgmental or close-minded way. Does it make you feel good to be so negative? Likely not. If you instantly question your reaction to someone, it’s probably because you were too quick to judge and feel guilty about it. Try acceptance on for size. It feels pretty good.