How to Be Less Judgmental

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Have you ever stopped to think about how many times a day you make judgments about people, situations, or events? It's a common habit that we all engage in. 

For instance, when we meet someone, we tend to judge how they look and make assumptions about their lifestyle. As we scroll through social media, we decide whether or not we like people’s outfits, scrutinize their hairstyles, scoff at their antics, and even judge what they’re eating for breakfast.

Being judgmental means looking at things through a lens of criticism, says Meghan Marcum, PsyD, chief psychologist at AMFM Healthcare.

Judgment is a cognitive ability that helps us assess people, situations, and relationships based on the sensory evidence available to us to come to conclusions and make decisions. While this is an important capability, it’s important for us to wield it carefully and not be overly critical of others.

This article explores the benefits of being more open-minded and suggests some ways to be less judgemental.

Characteristics of Judgmental People

Dr. Marcum lists some characteristics of judgmental people as compared to those who are more open-minded. 

Judgmental People
  • Are overly critical

  • Make negative assumptions, without having all the facts

  • See the world through personal biases

  • Lack empathy for others

  • Devalue others in order to feel superior

  • See others as opponents or competitors

  • Are often unhappy

Open-Minded People
  • Are understanding

  • Keep an open mind and try to look for the best in people and situations

  • Maintain a fair and reasonable outlook

  • Have empathy for others

  • Don’t compare themselves to others

  • Have healthy, supportive relationships

  • Are more content

Benefits of Being Less Judgmental

Dr. Marcum discusses some of the benefits of being less judgmental:

  • Wider horizons: Looking at circumstances without judgment allows you to consider additional perspectives outside of your own awareness and gain helpful insights into what other people experience. It can also help you increase empathy and compassion for people who may be different from you.
  • More positivity: Judgment comes from a place of negativity. Being less judgmental allows you to view the world with a more positive outlook. Research shows us that having a positive attitude helps us live happier, healthier lives.
  • Improved relationships: Feeling judged alienates others and makes it hard for them to trust you. Being compassionate and understanding on the other hand helps build supportive relationships.

6 Ways to Be Less Judgmental

Dr. Marcum shares some strategies that can help you be less judgmental.

Pay Attention to Your Thoughts

The first step to being less judgmental is to recognize that you’re doing it. Start paying more attention to your thoughts, so you can identify when you’re being judgmental. 

Look for thoughts or phrases like: 

  • “What is [person] doing/saying/wearing?"
  • "[Person] should be doing [action] instead of [action].”
  • “This [person/thing] is so [negative adjective].”

Question Your Assumptions

If you have a negative view of someone, ask yourself what it’s based on. Did you formulate your view based on facts? Do you have all the relevant information or do you need to inquire further about the situation? 

Make an effort to explore all the possible sources of information before coming to a conclusion. If this isn’t possible, consider leaving your opinion neutral or open-ended. 

Recognize Your Biases

Be aware of your own biases and cultural standards. Recognize that your own view of life is limited based on your own experiences.

Remember that other people with different cultural, social, professional, religious, or ethnic backgrounds may not share the same views. Try to put yourself in their shoes and see things from their perspective.

Be Empathetic

Practice empathy and compassion for people, even if they look, think, dress, speak, or act differently than you do.

Think about how you have felt when someone formed an opinion of you that wasn’t accurate. Did you feel hurt, angry, upset, ashamed, embarrassed, or disappointed? Let those feelings guide you toward being more compassionate toward others.

Expand Your Horizons

Make an effort to expand your horizons and expose yourself to new ideas and perspectives. Meet new people and talk to them about their lives. Experiment with different activities and try new foods. Read lots of books and watch informative content. Travel as much as you are able to.

Practice Positivity

With practice, you can develop a more positive mindset. If you catch yourself thinking something negative about something or someone, challenge yourself to see something positive in the situation instead.

You can also take a few minutes every night to list the good things that happened that day and be thankful for all the things you’re grateful for. You can choose to do this exercise by yourself in your mind. Or you can note it down in a journal or practice it with a loved one.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How to know if you are a judgemental person?

    These are some signs that can help indicate you’re a judgmental person:

    • You have trouble seeing past others’ flaws.
    • You generally think of people as being all good or all bad.
    • You don’t like people who aren’t like you.
    • You feel everyone is against you or out to get you.
    • You think of others as opponents.
  • How to deal with someone in your life who is judgmental?

    These are some strategies that can help you cope with someone who is judgmental:

    • Let them know that their comments hurt you.
    • Explain your perspective to them, if they’re willing to listen.
    • Remember that their attitude is more a reflection of them than you.
    • Distance yourself from them if their behavior doesn’t change.

A Word From Verywell

While all of us are guilty of being judgmental at some point or another, it’s a bad habit that can breed negativity. Being more open-minded can help us widen our horizons, gain new perspectives, and build healthier relationships.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Psychological Association. Judgment.

  2. Malinowska-Cieślik M, Mazur J, Nałęcz H, Małkowska-Szkutnik A. Social and behavioral predictors of adolescents' positive attitude towards life and self. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(22):4404. doi:10.3390/ijerph16224404

  3. Fernández L, Fossa A, Dong Z, et al. What do patients find judgmental or offensive in outpatient notes? J Gen Intern Med. 2021;36(9):2571-2578. doi:10.1007/s11606-020-06432-7

By Sanjana Gupta
Sanjana is a health writer and editor. Her work spans various health-related topics, including mental health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness.