In our spot on the site where we chat about things that can affect our mental health and general wellbeing, a few thoughts on snap judgements.

Hello, and a very warm welcome to the spot on the site where we chat about mental health and wellbeing. The title does tend to give that bit away! There’s nothing radical to what we’re doing here. It’s just a little chat, with space in the comments if people want it. No miracle answers are offered or promised, just the hope that over the series of articles we run, there’s something in there that might be a little bit of use to you.

This time, it’s a few words about judgement.

I’m quite boring about this. I’ve got to the point over the last years where I’ve tried to work from a viewpoint that nobody fully knows anybody’s else’s story. That we get a snapshot, sometimes a really good snapshot, of someone. But never the full picture. What’s happened to them today to make them behave as they are, for good or bad? The truth is we generally haveno idea.

As such, when I see people tutting at a parent trying to control a rowdy child, I don’t join in. Who knows what kind of day they’ve had? Who knows what challenges the parent and child face on a daily basis? Granted, it may be a terrible parent. It may be a terrible child. But how do I know that? How can I make that snap judgement? My instinct tends to be there’s a lot more to the story.

I’ve carried this across to some of my previous jobs too, with varying levels of success. When I’ve sat in a room and been shouted at, I do wonder what’s led the person in front of me to treat another like that. Conversely, when I see someone happy and smiling, I don’t assume that they’re the life and soul of the metaphorical party, and believe that’s always who they are.

It’s a really simple approach, and for me at least it’s been quite an effective one. I can’t pretend that I don’t have the same reactions as many when it comes to a difficult situation. Sometimes, I bite someone’s head off, and instantly regret it. As much as all of this might make some sense written down, it’s not always easy to put it all into practice.

But I do try.

People don’t get into bad moods by accident, I’ve concluded. I counter this by accepting that I can’t be blamed for said moods either, and there’s only so much anybody can be expected to take. But a tiny bit of empathy, I’ve also learned, can go a long way.

Nothing radical, then, but hopefully just a small thought to put in your head. The very best to you all, and take care. This column will return next week…

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