Forget about prejudices: The best tips to avoid judging others without knowing them. Many people say first impressions count when you meet someone, but the truth is that prejudice can be harmful. When you allow your mind to be prejudiced, you often don’t even give yourself a chance to meet people.
For this reason, in this article, you can learn the best tips to avoid judging others before meeting them, and thus become a much more sociable and pleasant person.
How are prejudices born?
According to modern theories, prejudice is a learned attitude based on the person’s experiences throughout their life, especially during childhood. Young children learn first what the family or society thinks of the world before knowing such events for themselves. Therefore, a prejudice can have negative consequences since it starts from a negative value judgment before a group based on insufficient or incomplete information.
In the end, prejudice is a distorted way of interpreting reality since it has a factual basis, but at the same time, it contains erroneous, exaggerated information or accidental generalizations caused by previous or other experiences.
For this reason, it is resistant to change, and it is very difficult to eliminate it, as people believe it truthfully, even when shown contrary evidence in reality. William James said, “many people think they are thinking when they are just rearranging their prejudices.”
How do prejudices affect me?
People with prejudices are at a disadvantage because they learn nothing new and often miss opportunities. Prejudices can become dangerous if they are widespread, for example, through media such as newspapers, television, and radio, or social networks.
If negative things get repeated constantly about a certain group, you have to be careful.
Especially if there is not much dissemination of the contrary opinion, in this way, more and more people can believe in it. Negative prejudices that develop on a large scale in society can cause tensions between groups. Or these groups of people get deprived of something or get treated unequally, for example, because of their origin, skin color, or religion. We call that discrimination.
What are the downsides of prejudice?
If we trust stereotypes, we will often be wrong, especially when we talk about socio-cultural issues. For example, when we say that the inhabitants of a country are of a certain shape, we do not consider that the group is too broad to reach conclusions of this type. Stereotypes are also not helpful when making long-term judgments or making decisions.
In fact, and according to a study, most stereotypes about other cultures are held with no experience with people from those cultures, according to a study carried out in the United States. That is to say, whoever releases very certain topics about the inhabitants of a country or region, as a general rule, has neither been nor knows the people of that place. When we meet someone who doesn’t fit the stereotype, we treat them as an exception. Even if they are the only person we know from that country.
Another problem comes when statistical logic is not considered. To take an example adapted from Kahneman: is it more likely that a young Spanish student who loves poetry has enrolled in Economics or Japanese Philology? We may be tempted to answer that Japanese Philology, following a few stereotypes that come to mind, but the most likely answer is Economics simply because there are many more students of Economics than Japanese Philology.
The example gives us a clue about what Kahneman advises us when we have doubts: stick with the basics.
We also have to consider the danger posed by our cognitive biases, which are the prejudices that come standard in our brain. For example, confirmation bias causes us to accept all the evidence supporting our ideas and being skeptical of the contrary.
And the illusory correlation makes us assume a relationship between two variables, whether there is data to confirm it or not, which often occurs in the relationship between race and crime since we overestimate the negative behaviors of small groups.
At the end of the day, and as much as prejudice may be useful at times, we cannot forget that Kahneman recalls that the social norm against stereotypes “has been very beneficial in creating a more civilized and egalitarian society.” Resisting these preconceptions is worth paying the costs. Unless, of course, we are firefighters.
What can I do to stop being judgmental?
Some strategies can help you stop being judgmental. You have to take care of putting them into practice to make them a habit. Some of the most effective are:
Weather, forget about prejudices
Before issuing a comment or listing a person, take the time to get to know them well. We can be surprised if we give it the opportunity. Observe from some distance and try not to act impulsively so that the other person can act freely and function naturally. If we don’t give it a chance, we will never know if we were right with what we thought.
Sincerity, forget about prejudices
Don’t take something based on assumptions for granted. If you have any doubts concerning certain situations, ask the person involved directly, especially about attitudes or reactions. Sometimes, what we consider wrong, in reality for the other person, is not, so it is necessary not to take certain things for granted but to consult beforehand.
Clarity, forget about prejudices
It would be best if you tried to avoid all those words that are destructive to both you and the other person. It would be best to think positively and stay open to the situation to accept the differences and not judge them. We are not judges of other people. We are different, so it is important to learn to live with diversity instead of criticizing it.
To prevent, forget about prejudices
If you don’t like being criticized for no reason, don’t do the same. Everyone has the right to be as they want as long as they do not harm others. Respecting different opinions and different ways of facing life is the fundamental key. We learn more from differences than from equalities.
Equality, forget about prejudices
No one is a better person for dressing, speaking, or acting in this or that way. By prejudging, the only thing you will achieve is to stay in a place of passivity. Start working with your biases to learn from others and grow as a person.
Prejudices and negative stereotypes often have harmful consequences for both groups and individuals, since they can promote stigmatization, exclusion, discrimination, and inequality. That makes reducing prejudice an important task to improve coexistence in our society.
Now that you know the best tips to avoid judging others before meeting them, you can become a much more sociable and pleasant person.