When it comes to people you just can’t tell by looking. You can’t tell how smart they are, where they grew up, if they are kind or when they last went for a checkup. You can assume, in fact I was reading something the other day about how our brain filters items by processing them quickly.

I was sitting in the corner of a coffee shop the other day, watching people go by in a moment of considered quiet. By that, I mean slow contemplation with a side order of writer’s block. I was thinking. I was watching and thinking. Watching and assessing.

Short.

Fat.

Small.

Cranky.

Tall.

Woot woo.

Annoying.

Old.

On and on it went. My snap processing of the people as I scanned a line out the door waiting for their caffeine hit. I saw what I saw of them in that moment, I know what I know about life and people and things. And so I knew. In that moment I knew them.

But I didn’t, did I? I might have lucked out occasionally. I might have guessed correctly for others. Like short is relative, right? Most people look short to me. I’m almost 5’11” so that’s not surprising. I didn’t know them any more than they know the girl in the corner with her laptop, messy hair, and glasses staring at them.

What is the point of these snap judgements, why do we do that?

It’s a brain thing, we see so much, smell, hear and touch so much, that there has to be a fast way to process that or we’d go nuts. Imagine the having to piece by piece process all that? It’s nuts. And, it’s also a safety thing. Those snap judgements tell us to get out of the way if we see someone or something that is a threat. Yay for that, I say. Yay for safety first.

But it’s important to question those snap decisions we make. A large intimidating man may be a doting father of girls who has a gentle touch, his very own ballerina tutu and the perfect arms for a hug. Or he might be an actual intimidating criminal type. You don’t know, is my point, until you know.

So, my friends, I have a challenge for you. Something to begin to shift the thoughts you are thinking and the judgements you are making by default about people. I mean, if you would like to, if for you, acting on auto-pilot is not enough because you want to get to know people, then this is for you.

Next time you hear yourself having a thought about someone, making a judgement, or filing them in whatever way you do, I want you to ask ‘says who?’. That simple question will open your mind to considering it further. Seeking more evidence or might even trigger a chance for a conversation. Simple. Effective. Pose the question to yourself. I’ve done this so often sometimes I find myself saying it out loud.

Thos two words are simple and effective. Just pose the question to yourself and see where it takes you. Question everything, my friends, that’s always been my motto. And now, I’ve done this so often sometimes I find myself saying it out loud.

Says who?

Says you, says who.

And that makes your judgements YOUR problem.

Hands up, who accepts my challenge?

  • Emily Furlong

    *****Waves hand frantically!!***** yes! Love love love this post Mel!

  • Peta

    I’ve been doing this for a while now and as soon as I started doing it, it changed my world, cutting out the negativity in my head just gave me such a better outlook on life in general. Love this post!

    • Thank you. It really does. Against yourself and others. It clears a space, has you question everything. It really does work.

  • pioneerpat1

    I don’t to try too judge people as I don’t know their story, so I just let them be.

  • Hey Melissa, do you know lately I’ve found myself consciously trying to be less judgey about people based on appearance? I think some of your blogs are rubbing off on me, for reals.
    Like for example when I saw every woman at the train station yesterday in tights, boots and a scarf because it was 5 degrees cooler than usual and snorted, I immediately caught myself and thought – “Hey, they can wear what they want! They’ve probably been itching to wear those boots since March!”
    So yes, I accept your challenge – whenever I have a negative judgemental thought to myself based on appearance (eg. tights are not pants, that skirt is too short, you’re up to no good because you’re wearing a hoodie), I will try to ask myself “says who?”

    • Thank you Sarah. Best news ever. 🙂

      Says who indeed. And YES, I hear you. I saw a lady in a rather oversized snood thingy and had a chuckle thinking geeez lady, too soon. I was pretty quickly reminded of my husband telling me to it was too soon for my boots too, LAST MONTH. So yeah, each to their own. 😉

  • I used to be so judgemental – I think judging other people made me feel better about judging myself! I got really sick of it one day and decided I’d have a coffee and spend the whole time thinking at least one nice thought about everyone I noticed walking past. It changed my life, no joke. I do it without even thinking now, and I think so many more nice thoughts about myself too.

    • It does. For me it was being competitive. If I could rate or rank myself in some way above someone else then I was okay. I could relax. There was someone else who was doing life worse than me. It really is a bit of a prop to feel better about yourself sometimes. And your strategy for shifting your thinking is SO cool. I’m going to give that a try and report back. x

      • Do let me know! I’m really interested to see how well it works for other people 😀

        I hear you on being competitive – my family is seriously competitive and it’s such a hard habit to break. Mr Wright is much more laid back though.

        • Will do!

          Oh yeah, competitive runs strong in our family. I think that breeds a comparison mentality which if let unchecked can be one heck of a pain in the butt!

  • Liz Poke

    This post? I love it! Why are we so quick to judge? I’m pretty sure (lets be honest, 100% sure!) I was exactly the same but after becomig close friends witha woman who struggles with her own body image, self confidence and a very gossipy tongue, I’ve become more aware of my own attitudes and have changed my tune! I’m more positive towards other poeple and I’d rather see the good in them rather than the negative. Thanks Melissa 🙂

    • You’re welcome. I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

      It certainly shines a light on things when you see your behaviour coming from someone else’s mouth. For me, that’s always been a bitter pill to swallow. Sometimes that’s all it can take to change you and even later, them.

  • A whopping big AMEN to THIS!

  • Natalie

    You are awesome Mel! This is brilliant, says who? says me xo

    • Thanks Nat. So I wasn’t spamming your wall after all. 😉

      • Natalie

        Never Mel, your blog posts are always so spot on with changing our way of thinking, feel free to add to our conversations anytime. We love having you as part of our community xo

  • Mahina Hathaway

    This is so spot on. I was reading an article last night about how ones judgements are inner reflections of our own views/hang ups/insecurities/general outlook on life. I love sitting and people watching, not censoring my instinctive judgements at all for a time because it gives me a massive insight into my own head! Personally, I dont see any harm in judgements made. Mainly because I think that if we are aware of our own judgements and that they say more about us than the person we’re judging, it can be very useful and is something that can be managed. I think the problem lies when we forget ourselves, we forget to be aware and think that our judgements/assumptions are the truth and the only truth… :S Thats where things get dangerous.

    • Thank you Mahina and what an amazing contribution to the conversation. I appreciate you contributing. x