We're all the same: we rush to judge without knowing

Katy meets Anna for the first time and she seems a bit rude, a bit snobby, not very graceful in terms of social manners, and appears a bit angry.

Katy takes that information and paints that negative picture of Anna in everyday life, when in reality, Anna could have been having a bad day.

What if she just found out her parents are getting a divorce?

Perhaps her grandma died recently?

Maybe she only got four hours sleep, or she just lost her smartphone.

Katy doesn't know.

Let's face it. We all do it. We judge.

We like to label others, shove them into this box and that box.

We don't like ''undefined'' people.

We assume we know who someone is based on our interactions and observations.

Judging makes us feel safe and comfortable.

It gives us a sense of control.

But despite our best efforts to judge, we all know deep down inside, we can't and shouldn't really judge another person.

Who are we to judge?

Seriously. We don't know their story. We don't know what is going on in another person's life.

We just don't know the entire situation and the circumstances that are involved.

When Katy met Anna, she instinctively gathered as much information as she could from her interaction with Anna.

And based on that information (which is the equivalent to the size of a piece in a Wasgij 1000-piece puzzle), Katy tried to construct the entire jigsaw puzzle of Anna using only that tiny puzzle piece.

Not only do we size people up too quickly, we often fall back on stereotypes to help us do it.

Once we make up our mind about someone, it's hard to change our opinion.

When we've shoved someone into a particular box, we only look for the information that supports the box and selectively ignore all that does not.

What if Anna decided that Katy was shy and uptight?

So from now on, Anna might not notice all the times that Katy is friendly and outgoing, but will be sure to pounce on the times that Katy is a little reserved.

Sometimes we unintentionally change our behaviours to evoke the very actions in the other person we expect.

The classic example is Katy believing that Anna is a snob.

Whenever Katy runs into Anna, Katy is likely to act unfriendly and unapproachable.

Naturally Anna will be offended and snub Katy in return. Katy can then say, ''See, I knew it. She snubbed me.''

Yet Katy was the snob.

Katy is not aware of this because she has instinctively shoved Anna in the snob box without realising that she shoved herself in there, too.

This human interaction really gets under my skin.

Why can't we reserve our judgements?

We're hardly even enabled to change this continuous cycle of judging because it's just who we are, no matter how much it ruffles our feathers.

Katy and Anna can't help that they judged each other within seconds of meeting; they wouldn't have even realised that they did.

We're all the same. We just don't know.


• By Taylor Aitken-Boyle, Year 13, South Otago High School 


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