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  • Joanne Li


Judging is like watering a garden. Relationships can flourish as people form positive opinions, or falter as people douse them in unforgiving water. It will rain, of course, because automatic judgments are natural. However, what ultimately determines the fate of the garden is up to how we choose to judge others.

What are automatic judgments? These are the quick, reflex opinions we form everyday. They’re made when we spot a friend, or when we glance at a stranger. We could decide that the friend’s flannel needed a little readjustment, or that the stranger seemed to be friendly. Our brains are built to do this so that we aren’t exhausted from constantly analyzing every aspect of our surroundings. Even so, it is crucial to recognize the impact of subconscious opinions on our behavior. We’re all biased in some way.

It’s been shown that we initially judge other people in a similar way to how we judge ourselves. Think about what you look for when you first meet a person. Are they attractive? Are they popular? Do they seem smart? Think about how you measure yourself. Similar, right? It’s important to identify when our inherent goals and preferences can impact our relationships with other people. Take some time to recognize the inherent beliefs that you have.

On the flip side, conscious judgments require time and deliberation. These can take place when you’re deciding on your overall impression of a person. Of course, conscious judgments can be more reliable because you rely on your information and logic rather than an instinctive feeling.  

Still, our reliance on information for conscious judgments can be a flaw. When forming deliberate judgments, the information that we have is key. Ask yourself: “Do I know this for sure?” There have been times where we have all formed strong opinions towards someone simply based on what we heard from a friend. There’s a strong likelihood they’re justified. Nevertheless, being aware of the bigger picture only help you make a better judgment. Why does your friend feel this way? Why would the other person act that way? What could be another factor you might not be aware of?

Finally, there are two types of opinions that we can make in response to a situation. Personality attributions are when we relate a person’s actions to their personality. Likewise, situational attributions are when we relate their actions to the situation.

Imagine you smile at an acquaintance in the hallway, and they walk right past you. You could believe that they are unfriendly, or you could choose to think that they simply didn’t see you. That’s a big difference, isn’t it? It could affect your whole relationship with them. As a result, it’s essential to consider the situation and your perspective before making judgments about one’s personality.

Ultimately, the best gardens are the ones that are carefully kept. If you’re living in an incredibly rainy area, move! Instead of relying on automatic judgments, think your opinions through. Finally, try to be sunny! Flowers love sunlight, so let your relationships grow in an area of positivity. Looking for the best in others will help your relationships thrive.

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