Supporting Vs Judging

“Stop judging me!”, said the daughter. The mother raised her hands in exasperation and said to herself “I am just trying to support; why doesn’t she understand?”

“I am so lucky! My boss did a fabulous job of evaluating my performance, strengths and development areas. This is so useful in my development journey.”

The above two conversations are instances of supporting and judging. They also indicate relationship between the two and their effectiveness, or lack of it.

In the 1st instance, mother’s intention of support is landing on the daughter as a judgment. This is causing irritation, resentment and anger. And in the 2nd instance, the judgment of boss is being taken as invaluable and energizing. Stated simply the 1st instance is creating unhappiness and behaviour which nobody wants and the 2nd instance is creating happiness and desired behaviour.

Also, the above two instances show that not all ‘so called’ support is welcome and not all judgment is unhealthy.

What is the essence of supporting? In my view, support is that which empowers and enables the person to deal with a situation powerfully. It could be feelings (of love, caring, understanding etc.), thoughts, expression or an action. And as per this definition, even a judgment as illustrated above can be support. And if a declared intention and/or action of support does not empower the person, then, it is not support.

Coming to judgment, what does it take to judge a person in a manner that empowers the person. In my experience, it requires huge amount of personal maturity, and reasonable amount of time and effort to effectively judge a person. Also, the readiness of the person, to be judged or to take feedback, is extremely critical. I have seen very few people and instances, where judgment is being done effectively.

What should be the frequency of judgment or evaluation? In the context of aiding in the development of a person by another (parent, boss, etc.) it should be done infrequently, may be once in six months. Here it is important to distinguish between evaluation of work and person. While the work may be evaluated more frequently, evaluating a person is far more serious and sensitive.

Introspection, reflection or self-judgment can be done far more frequently. Nevertheless, here also, it is to be done in a manner that is supportive. The threat of destructive self-judgment is as real as it is in case of judging others.

There is a thin line separating support and judgment, and one needs to constantly examine oneself. You may consider looking at, at least one relationship where you are being truly supportive – either through an effective judgment or through numerous other possible ways.

-By Anil Sainani

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