Where Opinion Turns to Judgment

I recently met someone that I worked with almost 30 years ago when I was in my late teens/early 20s.  After finally figuring out where we knew each other from and from when, I asked him not to judge me now based on who I was 30 years ago.  I have no idea what his opinion of me was based on who I was back then. All I know is that I’m much different now. Thankfully, he suspended judgment and allowed us the opportunity to re-establish our relationship based on who each of us has become.

Have you had a similar experience where you were concerned about being judged based on what you did or who you were some time ago?  What was that like for you?

I had another recent experience where I was asked for input about hiring someone that I had known about 10 years ago.  Since I had already started this blog posting, I realized how off-the-mark my comments could be based on the elapsed time since I had last dealt with this person. What if the behaviors I recognized in this person all that time ago were no longer as prevalent?  Would my observations and input even be valid for consideration?

Since I’m writing about judgment, here is a definition:


  • the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion: a man of sound judgment.

  • the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion, or conclusion, as from circumstances presented to the mind.

Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote, “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” There is an element of seeing others as we see ourselves in his statement. This means that the person judging others has an element of “needing to be seen as...” that was described in the book The Anatomy of Peace by the Arbinger Institute.

So, what’s the difference between opinion and judgment?  A judgment is more ingrained in the person judging. It’s a decision that is reached, which may not even be a conscious decision. In many of my experiences, judgments become cast in concrete and cannot be altered without significant effort over a prolonged period of time.

Opinion conveys a less permanent decision and an element of open-mindedness. Opinions are much easier to influence and alter than judgments. I think of opinions as being more fluid and supple.

Think of people on whom you have passed judgment. What would it take for you to suspend your judgment and give these people another opportunity to make an impression?

Gary Bamberger