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Rush to Judgment

“Things are rarely as they first appear.”

“Avoid a knee-jerk reaction.”

“One side seems right, until you hear the other side.”

“Don’t draw a conclusion before you’ve gathered all the facts.”

“Everyone deserves a fair hearing.”

Rush to Judgement

How many times recently has the media, an elected official, or an angry mob rushed to make a pronounced judgment only to retract their judgment later.

Don’t they ever learn?

In our rush to judgment, we rarely intend to do harm.  Instead, we often react to incomplete or scant information, fit it into our own mental model of how things should be, and then jump to conclusions that, regrettably, inflict harm.

The difference is found in the context of the situation.

Context helps us to walk in the shoes of others – but it takes time and effort to learn context.  So often, it is much easier to live in a land of blame and shame, and not worry about facts and truth.

Rushing to Judgement in Business

When considering typical management blunders, Paul Nutt, Professor of Management Sciences at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, is quoted,

“The rush to judgment blunder crops up when managers identify a concern and latch upon the first remedy that they come across.”

Managers seem to believe that concerns and solutions come in pairs.

They fear the threat of an unresolved concern — with good reason as higher-ups press them for action.   As the scrutiny mounts, managers find it nearly impossible not to grab the first solution that they find.

Avoid Rushing to Judgements

One of the first ways to overcome rushing to a quick judgment is to be aware of our tendency to judge.

The only way to truly stop passing judgment is to know when we are doing this in the first place.  So here are several characteristics to be aware of:

Tuning Out – A key characteristic of judgmental people is realizing that they are tuning out others.

When we snap to a conclusion, we stop listening.  Unfortunately, this often leads to inappropriate decisions.  If we focus on listening to what a person says, we might draw a different, more informed conclusion.

Questioning – We can avoid snap judgments by making curiosity our default setting.

When we are curious, we are open to learning and receiving information.  We can pose questions that will allow us to understand the meaning of a statement rather than judging or making assumptions.  We can also phrase questions that do not put the person on the defensive and shut down communication.

Empathetic – Try to be empathetic and put yourself in someone else’s shoes when tempted to make a quick judgment.

Act Professional – If we have an issue in a business dealing or transaction, we must act professionally and give the person the opportunity to respond.  Being defensive destroys communication.

Look Past Previous Actions – Just because someone else had a bad experience with or doesn’t like someone doesn’t mean you have to share the same feeling.  Find things out for yourself and make your own conclusions.

The Bible

John 7:24 says,

“Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

            And 1 Samuel 16:7 says

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

The self-righteous religious Jews in first-century Judea could not look past the external to see the reality of what was happening in and around Jesus.  He was bringing people back to life, the blind could see, and the lame could walk.

Despite these fantastic miracles that only God can accomplish, the Jews could only see Jesus’s disregard for their petty rules and restrictions.  He brought a man back from the dead on a Sabbath, and the only thing they could recognize was the violation of not working on a Sabbath.  The man was dead and is now alive.

Jesus’ life and words were a threat to their way of life.  They loved their way of life and understanding of the world more than they loved God.  It was all too easy for them to judge Jesus so that they could dismiss what he said.

Rushing to judgment is bad for business. 

Business leaders need to see the context before forming an opinion of a situation.  For Jesus, the context was the people, not the rules. 

We need to recognize that snap decisions and comments will be permanent, so take the time to judge properly.