To Judge Or Not To Judge.

I have to be honest. Since young, I have been taught to judge people based on their outlook. My mum, relatives and even friends would easily gives out comment such as “he looks like a crook, keep away from him” or “stay away from those dark-skinned Bangladeshi worker”. I think Chinese generally likes to judge others. Wise Chinese sages from the past have passed down numerous quotes to tell us the importance on judging people. For example, “mian you xing sheng” (physical appearance stems from thinking), “fang ren zhi xin bu ke wu” (we must always guard ourselves against others), “zhi ren zhi lian bu zhi xin” (we might know a person and his looks, but not the heart). All of these famous quotes have instilled a sense of paranoia and suspiciousness in most Chinese.

*Chinese – I use this term loosely and of course I am generalizing. China is now so big and there are millions of Chinese in different parts of the world now. Some are brought up in an environment that they have lost touch completely with Chinese teachings. I personally know ABC (American born Chinese), Indonesian Chinese that are completely integrated with where they are born and thus does not fall into this category of my generalization. Also, even in China, I think my generalization applies mostly to Southern China ethnic group. The Northern Chinese thinks very differently.

So is this constant sense of paranoia a good thing? No. That is because we are mostly using such judging to protect ourselves and we think the worst of others. Do I still agree to the Chinese way of judging others? Yes. We must and in fact, we must bring it one level higher. Over the years, I started to realize what was the missing ingredient in judging others. The ability to know someone. Let me go to the different level of judging others. The basic level is purely based on physical appearances. What they wear, how they talk and their actions in public. One example would be to distant ourselves from people who spit in public, those who are dirty and dressed sloppily & those who smells. I guess it is logical to assume that someone whom is dressed in dirty, tattered clothes is extremely poor and unhygienic. So to protect ourselves from disease, we keep away from them. This basic level of judging is important but we shouldn’t stop at this. The 2nd level of judging requires a bit of observation & wisdom. We judge others based on their actions and our own past experiences. This is much more specific and not necessarily true but it gives us extra advantages. For example, if you ran into a molester and you remembered his face. In future, if you happened to came upon someone who look very similar to his feature, don’t you think you should put some precaution at this guy? I think so, yes. Even if he will not be a molester, he could possess similar level of desire of a molester. Chinese have established an in-depth study of facial analysis and even if we do not have such knowledge, we must trust that to a certain degree, it is practical. Else, such knowledge would not have been around for more than 2000 years. That’s why I sometimes look into newspaper for face-shot of molesters, rapist, serial killers etc. This is to ensure that I know their features and if I came upon someone like that in future, I will be extra careful with them. For female, if you recognize such feature, my advice is to run away immediately. Also, at this same level, we need to do a bit of observation. If you were sitting in a bus and you notice one guy behaving sneakily. Perhaps he seemed edgy and always looking to his left & right and kept his head low, afraid to be seen. What should you be thinking? You must assume that he is a bad person, trying to do harm to others. If you think of this logically, what is it that he is doing that he is ashamed to be seen? Perhaps he is hiding a bomb? Or maybe he is trying to steal someone’s wallet? That is why it is very important that we stay alert and keep our eyes open all the time. We could be missing out important information that could save our life. We also try to observe the actions of those around us all the time, but don’t do this openly. People get annoyed if they know someone is observing them.

Now this brings us to the 3rd level of judging. The ability to know someone before we judge someone. Most of us will have the opportunity to utilize this 3rd level of judging but we can only use this on people we have close interaction with. We cannot be using such high level of judging on the sneaky guy on the bus, can we? That is because the 3rd level of judging requires wisdom, observation & time. We can use this on our colleagues, family members, friends and generally everyone whom we will have more than twice interaction. As much as I would like to live in an ideal world where all our close friends & families are bonded nicely and will never hurt us, the reality is not the case. In our world, colleague back-stab us for promotion, wife has affair with the neighbor, our son steals the family money, friends spread rumors to bring us down and relatives will take our land if they get a chance. So, how do we prevent this? By being paranoia to everyone and push all our close ones away? No. By judging each & every one of them to split out the bad weed. I do that all the time as I live in a hostile extended family environment. I have an uncle whom has cheated money from many relatives. Some of his tactic includes; buying car for them as discounted price, buying computer, ask them to invest to set up a coffee shop, lie to them saying that money lenders are after him, etc. I have another uncle who seemed a lot better but once you get to know him, you will realized that he too are using similar tactic to solicit money from relatives. He will make use of his close relationship with him and during emergency he will not be abashed to borrow money from you. However, once his emergency is over, he will never make an effort to return the money to you. From my observation of these two uncles, their promises rarely amount to anything. Although they talk big, they never walk the talk.

*Walk the talk = actually doing what they claimed.

I have a colleague named L. When I joined my current company, he was my mentor and I looked up upon him as he was teaching me many things I was supposed to learn, as part of my job. I am grateful to him for that. Due to working with him, I got to know him a lot better. He always tries to maintain a distance with me as he believes in a distance between professional & personal relationship. Yet, slowly I got to know of his personal beliefs. And then everything makes sense to me. Apparently, his personal beliefs conflicted with what he is supposed to do at work. L is extremely competitive to an extend that it is selfish. We should be selfish to think for ourselves but yet as with everything else, there need to be a balance. When we are working in group, the group’s interest should also be prioritized. Selfish is defined as taking the only apple on the table for yourself because there is only one. This action is correct but yet, we must look into the situation before we take. I don’t think anyone should have any qualms in taking this apple if everything else is equal. Yet, should you be taking this apple if your competitor has been starving for 5 days? By taking this, you will kill the man. Have you considered that the apple itself is rotten or not suitable for your stomach? To me, L is completely ruthless because when it comes to competition, he assumed everyone is in a fair state. And the sad truth is, he treats almost everything as a competition. Finding a girlfriend, getting a new job, buying an expensive watch, salary increment, etc. He always wants to be viewed as number 1 and getting all that he wants. I utterly despise that and I think I have to keep my distance from him. I do not believe in a personal nor business relationship with him as from my 3rd level judging, I believe he will crush me completely if he had the chance. His word will mean nothing if a better deal appears. Although in the business world these days is all about writing it down in black & white, I can tell you, this is not always the case. I still believe in the good old business method of honoring one words and keeping the trust in others. Even before coming to a contract, we will still need to confirm verbally to proceed, true? Based on this, we must thoroughly understand & completely judge someone correctly before we even think about working a business deal with him.

Some quick tip about 3rd level judging. Observe the person daily behavior. If he talks, does he takes action on what he claims? If no, that tells you a bit about his personal commitment. He talks & agree before he really thinks it through. Take note of hidden issues such as ego problem, self-esteem problem & value system. If someone has huge inflated ego & will almost never take critism, do you think it is wise to marry him? If someone do not feel confident and happy with his/her situation, do you think he be able to think & talk rationally over personal topic such as money management? I notice the low self-esteem problem with L when he exhibit behavior of over lifting himself. He likes to put himself at a higher position by comparing things that he does better than everyone else. So much, that he exaggerates what he has/achieved and belittle/demean what others has. When someone tries to step down on others to appear higher himself, you know he has self-esteem problem. What about value-system? Well, in a practical world these days, we can’t always be talking about sympathy for the poor and giving to charity. You will likely put others off and create a distance with everyone. Also, truly smart & charitable people understood that you will be able to give more to others once you achieve success yourself. For example, a poor person donating money to another poor person is just a bad cycle. Both of them will never get out of the poor cycle themselves. Yet, if a wealthy person decided to give back to society, he understood how economy works and how education & knowledge will help to get these poor people out of the poor cycle. If so, this wealthy person really did make a change in the society and helped many poor people. You will notice most truly rich people never really like giving money to the poor. That is because they know that such money will not help. Rich people usually help by setting up homes, free education, give clothes etc etc. Back to the topic. How do we judge someone based on value-system then? Same thing, through observation. For example, my boss has good value-system internally although he can be very ruthless doing business. In business, he will try to completely destroy someone’s else business yet I am aware he will gives out his extra things to poor people by the street. He also donated to causes such as cancer and diabetic. I am happy to be working under such a boss although I still don’t like him 😉 On the other hand, L will never do such act in his personal life and he openly admit he does not believe in charity. When I asked him why, he said he donated a bit to a live TV charity and it turns out that the CEO of the charity is living luxuriously. If you ask me, L did not donate out of his sympathy in the first place. It is just the ‘cool’ thing to do during that TV charity hype, so he donated. Also, he is just jealous of the CEO. But the main thing is his ego is bruised because he was cheated. How he comes to the conclusion that charity is a scam, is mostly due to his selfish, egoistic nature. Nothing more. And thus, I concluded that his value-system is purely based in his own self interest and he has no guideline whatsoever. I am lucky because slowly, our common business associate feel the same about him too these days. Yes, I am trying to bring him down because I know when someone like him is on top, many below will suffer.

As a summary, judging is very important and should be practiced at all times. Come to think of it, aren’t girls judging their boyfriend all the time? They need to do that because they have to be sure of the man soon-to-be their husband. We try to screen out bad ones using first level judging. Of course we don’t want to be marrying someone with a crooked mouth or with hair coming out of their nose daily. Once we have that special feel, we go on dates with him/her. During dates, we use the 2nd level of judging to observe his habit & behavior. If the guy has no confidence to even order food for you, I don’t think he will not have the ability to lead a family. If he has bad temper and scold the waiter very badly for spilling his coffee, what would he do to you at home when you spilled his coffee? And finally when you are really close and even stayed together, observed his daily behavior. Try to lookout if there are any character problems such as ego, self-esteem & value-system. Guys with ego problem will never help you take handbag even for a minute (when you go toilet). Guys with self-esteem problem will probably talk down on you and convince you that you are worthless, because they want to feel higher than you. Guys with value-system problem are probably only interested in your money (if you are rich), and if you are not, they won’t be around for long anyway.

Fellow bosses, use this in-depth judging method to evaluate and I can assure you the best employees working for you, by screening out the bad ones.