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Where Opinion Turns to Judgment

by Gary Bamberger on November 28, 2012

I recently met someone that I worked with almost 30 years ago when I was in my late teens / early 20’s.  After finally figuring out where we knew each other from & from when, I asked him not to judge me now based on who I was 30 years ago.  I have no idea what his opinion of me was based on who I was back then.  All I know is that I’m much different now.  Thankfully, he suspended judgment and allowed us the opportunity to re-establish our relationship based on who each of us have become.

Have you had a similar experience where you were concerned about being judged based on what you did or who you were some time ago?  What was that like for you?

I had another recent experience where I was asked for input about hiring someone that I had known about 10 years ago.  Since I had already started this blog posting, I realized how off-the-mark my comments could be based on the elapsed time since I had last dealt with this person. What if the behaviors I recognized in this person all that time ago were no longer as prevalent?  Would my observations and input even be valid for consideration?

Since I’m writing about judgment, here is a definition:[1]

  • the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion: a man of sound judgment.
  • the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion, or conclusion, as from circumstances presented to the mind.

Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote, “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” There is an element of seeing others as we see ourselves in his statement. This statement means that the person judging others has an element of “needing to be seen as…” that was described in the book The Anatomy of Peace by the Arbinger Institute.

So, what’s the difference between opinion and judgment?  A judgment is more ingrained in the person judging.  It’s a decision that is reached, which may not even be a conscious decision. In many of my experiences, judgments become cast in concrete and cannot be altered without significant effort over a prolonged period of time.

Opinion conveys a less permanent decision and an element of open-mindedness. Opinions are much easier to influence and alter than judgments.  I think of opinions as being more fluid and supple.

Think of people on whom you have passed judgment.  What would it take for you to suspend your judgment and give these people another opportunity to make an impression?

[1] “Judgment | Define Judgment at” 2006. 16 May. 2012 <>


Leadership Traits to Transform Your Life – Optimism

June 27, 2011

Over the past few months, I’ve had several people ask how I developed and maintain my optimism and positive outlook. So, I decided to jump to this topic for the next installment of my blog. Optimism / positivity is much more than ignoring negative aspects of a situation or looking for the silver lining in […]

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Transformation and Keeping Up with the Jones’?

February 8, 2011

Recently, the phrase “keeping up with the Jones’”came up during a conversation with a friend of mine. In doing a little research on-line, I found the background interesting. This phrase was the name of a comic strip that started around 1913 where the creator, Arthur R. (“Pop”) Momand, used his experiences of living beyond his […]

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10 from 2010

January 6, 2011

As I did in 2009, I am sharing the lessons I learned during 2010 with you. My hope is that you might pick up a kernel of wisdom from this, and that you are inspired to review how 2010 unfolded for you so that you are able to carry the lessons you learned forward in […]

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Settle Less by Leaning into Transformation

December 20, 2010

We’ve all been there…working a job that’s uninspiring and that’s mis-aligned with who you want to be and what you want to do with your life. When I’ve been in situations like this in the past, I’ve felt incomplete, uncommitted, unmotivated and uninspired. I felt a dread about going to work…I definitely had a perspective […]

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Transformation – A Matter of Choice

November 16, 2010

I was at a church service recently where the Rev. John Crestwell spoke about transformation.  To paraphrase, he stated that transformation starts by making choices to effect change. The context that he was speaking in was around organizational transformation. And it’s clear to me that this would also apply to individuals as well. So what’s […]

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Giving & Receiving the Gift of Feedback

August 16, 2010

Giving feedback is an important aspect of communicating with others. When you want to have meaningful relationships with others, you must open yourself up and risk giving and receiving feedback. Some of it will be positive reinforcement, some of it will be constructive feedback. All of it is important in figuring out how to deal […]

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