10 Ways To Be Less Judgmental Of People You Disagree With

Photo: getty
smiling woman on a beach
Self

Have you ever worried that you're being judgmental and want to know how to stop?

Learning how to be less judgmental is a process that starts when you begin to pay attention to the judgments you're passing on others.

RELATED: How To React With Love — Not Hate — When Someone Offends You

First, let’s talk about what it means to judge another person.

You and another disagree. Emotions may flare along a wide spectrum, from mildly confused and possibly hurt, all the way over to anger and disdain.

Even if you contain your emotions, there’s an energy of discord in the space between you.

What determines whether the energy you hold during a disagreement is judgmental?

After all, you're all entitled to your own opinion. You need to draw conclusions that may certainly differ at times from others. There's also a need to make assumptions sometimes to make timely decisions.

So, when are you judging someone you disagree with? Judgmental energy is toxic to both the person judging and the person feeling judged.

It works in destructive ways and stops healthy discourse.

Judgement comes from a toxic place of superiority.

If you disagree and show up from a place of superiority where you put down someone else, you're judging someone.

Because truth reflects your perception from our social conditioning, values, and belief systems, the way you disagree is really a reflection of these differences and often gets buried.

Can you really see someone’s social conditioning? How about what they value? Are you really clear on what they believe and why?

How can you really know what it’s like to experience anything in someone else’s shoes when you’ve never lived in them? It's when you need to impose your own version of the truth onto others that lead to judging.

Here are 10 ways to be less judgmental of people you disagree with.

1. Be curious.

If you disagree and think, “I have my opinion and you have a different one — how interesting! I want to hear more about that,” this is curious energy.

It’s hard to be judgmental when you’re simply wondering, "Why do you think that way?"

Being in a curious state will have you asking questions like, “What made you so angry?” or, “Will you tell me more about why you believe that? I’m curious where you're coming from.”

2. Be confused.

If you disagree and your response is, "I’m so confused — can you explain what you mean?” This is the perspective of being a student. You're learning about someone for the first time.

Isn’t your underlying energy genuinely confused when you see someone else’s different position? It’s not resonating with yours, so you don’t understand.

You'll be less judgmental when you come from the place of, “I haven’t got a clue of what you're talking about, please share more.”

Often with loved ones, you disagree because there's confusion about something much deeper. You know yourself and expect others to just "get you," but they come from their own inner knowing.

To be less judgmental, you need to clear up the confusion of different values. Why do you or don’t you value something? Is it simply a habit, a preference, or was it conditioned?

Once you understand how you developed your beliefs and conditioned ways, then you can find compromised solutions together and be less judgmental.

3. Find the humor in a situation.

If you can find the humor in a disagreement because it’s so opposite to your own, it can help.

A good illustration of using a perspective of humor and being confused happened when Emma Watson was judged for her choice of clothing in Vanity Fair in 2017.

She wore a somewhat-revealing cape, but for many women, her choice was viewed as an affront to feminism, and Watson is a self-proclaimed feminist. Her response of confusion and humor disarms the judgment of those who disagreed with her.

She says the backlash “... reveals to me how much misconception and misunderstanding there is about what feminism is…(it’s) about giving women choice. It’s about freedom! It’s about liberation! It’s about equality! I’m always just quietly stunned.”

Be quietly stunned, and you will be less judgmental.

RELATED: The 4-Part Exercise That Is Key To Effective, Zero-Arguing Communication

4. Don’t take it personally.

Most of us are not intentionally wanting to hurt, insult, or offend anyone with the ways we think or believe, but it’s easy to feel offended with people you disagree with.

If you take something personally, it will sound something like this:

  • "Who do you think you are?"
  • "What is wrong with you?"
  • "How dare you?"
  • "You should be ashamed of yourself!"

Essentially, you're taking offense to someone’s position and reacting as if its a personal attack, when it's rarely intentional.

If it's intentional — where you're deliberately being insulted or put down — you're now being judged, and there’s a need to set healthy boundaries with this person.

When you learn to stop taking someone's different position personally, you become less judgmental.

5. Avoid controlling others.

It's easy to recognize the kind of energy coming from controlling people. They need to be right, and you're clearly wrong!

You feel imposed upon. There’s no space to speak your truth without feeling attacked or afraid they're going to be offended.

It feels like you're walking on eggshells when you have controlling energy being thrown your way.

Now, if people feel this way around you, chances are you have controlling energy, which means you have a tendency to judge others. You need them to do and think as you do, and it will create all kinds of drama and heartache.

To be less judgmental, it’s important to recognize what controlling energy feels like in yourself, and how this energy is landing with other people. If you notice others often being defensive around you, it’s a sign you may be controlling.

Has anyone ever described you as controlling? Do you have control issues? Do things have to be your way or you get irritated, angry, or demanding?

When you release controlling energy, you will be less judgmental.

6. Recognize blaming and defensiveness.

Are you quick to blame others in a disagreement? How about complaining? This energy takes responsibility away from you and pushes it onto someone or the circumstances.

When you disagree, do you find yourself getting defensive? If so, you're feeling blamed and will try to defend yourself.

Instead, if you can learn how to take 100-percent responsibility for your choices, including the way you respond, you'll stop blaming, complaining, and feeling the need to defend yourself.

When your disagreement becomes someone's "fault" instead of working to understand differences, no one takes responsibility, and this can naturally lead to judging other people as wrong or bad.

You're the creator of your life through the thoughts you think, the choices you make, and the actions you take.

It can be difficult to see it this way sometimes based on how other people show up, but the more you move away from blame and defensiveness, the less judgmental you will be.

7. Be an observer.

The perspective of a witness or observer can help you be less judgmental when you disagree with someone. You can be in the place of "just noticing" as an observer to see the disagreement from a higher perspective.

Imagine yourself as a bird on a tree looking down from above at the disagreement. What do you notice from up there? What emotions are showing up and what are they telling you? Can you see both sides? Is there more than one truth here?

Be a witness, not a judge.

8. Pause.

Disagreements can have you reacting instead of responding. In reaction mode, it's easy to judge someone as wrong or "off their rocker," and you may rush in to fix or reprimand them.

But if you pause, and take a moment to slow down and count to 10, it can give you space to be mindful about how you can best respond with someone you disagree with.

We all need space to clear our reactive thoughts and shift the energy to what’s happening over there with the person disagreeing with you.

Nothing you say will be effective if you don't understand where someone you disagree with is coming from. That's how things land on deaf ears.

So, pause, take a breath, and you’ll find yourself being less judgmental and more understanding.

9. Come from love, not fear.

When you disagree, fear can dominate your energy. You feel attacked instead of coming from a place of love. Your spiritual nature is compassionate, kind, patient, and understanding.

Disagreements can move you away from your highest self and into fear. If you feel attacked, it’s fear that puts you on the defensive or has you feeling offended.

Fear may mean someone is not meeting your expectations. That can result in feeling disappointed or angry, and lead to judgment. Love sees another like an innocent child — young and immature in their own level of their awareness.

Let go of your expectations, and you'll be less judgmental.

10. Remember everyone's doing their best.

No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. We're all learning and growing.

Everyone has a different capacity and level of consciousness to see, hear, and understand, and because of these differences, everyone is really doing their best in any situation.

I try to remind myself that whoever I disagree with, everyone is operating from their own best state of awareness. I don’t have to like or agree with someone.

If I can still find humanity in those I feel really opposed to, I know I’ll also find compassion. When I see someone's choices are destructive to themself, all I can do is hope they find their way to a better place. They have their own lessons to learn.

After all, who am I to judge their path?

RELATED: 3 Things People Immediately Judge You On When You First Meet Them

Subscribe to YourTango's newsletter to keep up with us for FREE

- Our best articles delivered straight to your inbox
- The latest in entertainment and news
- Daily horoscopes and love advice

Carolyn Hidalgo is a spiritual life coach who focuses on the mind-body-soul connection and how to make it healthy for every area of your life. Pick up her free guide on living judgment-free to create your most fulfilling relationships with the freedom to be true to yourself by visiting her website.