- The process, act, or faculty of perceiving.
- The effect or product of perceiving.
- Insight, intuition, or knowledge gained by perceiving.
- The capacity for such insight.
- The act or process of judging; the formation of an opinion after consideration or deliberation.
- The mental ability to perceive and distinguish relationships; discernment: Fatigue may affect a pilot's judgment of distances.
- The capacity to form an opinion by distinguishing and evaluating: His judgment of fine music is impeccable.
- The capacity to assess situations or circumstances and draw sound conclusions; good sense: She showed good judgment in saving her money. See synonyms at reason.
- An opinion or estimate formed after consideration or deliberation, especially a formal or authoritative decision: awaited the judgment of the umpire.
OPINION, PERCEPTION, JUDGEMENT... MASS MISCOMMUNICATION
Last week saw a series of events that led to a major debate on perception/judgement between a friend and me. She was of the ‘perception’ (i.e. opinion) that ‘perception’ (i.e. insight gained by perceiving) was somewhat akin to, or even synonymous with, ‘judgement’ (i.e. the formation of opinion after consideration). She was of the opinion that people should not rush to judge each other after a single conversation or two, and I was debating the fact that ‘judgement’ and ‘perception’ are two different matters; just because people perceive others in a certain way does not mean that they are hastily judging or labelling each other.
Now... I am an English teacher. I make a living out of words strung together to create art, poetry, prose. I can debate the definition of words with the best of them. Yet, I also know which battles to take on and which battles to leave alone.
In my heart of hearts, I know that we all perceive those around us in sometime overly simplified ways; it is just the way in which the human mind processes information. When I go to a party, the only way you will stand out in my mind and be remembered is through my perception of you as so-and-so’s eccentric friend in the bohemian Sienna Miller style or the argumentative guy whose head is so far up his behind he cannot see past his nose, let alone my point of view. The next time I see you I may choose to befriend you or keep my distance based on the perceptions my brain has received in the course of our first meeting.
Judgement, however, is a matter of arriving at a decision based on initial perceptions. Judgement is when you take the information filtered through your perception, analyse it, and arrive at a decision, regardless of how flawed your analysis might be. Judgement is passing the verdict that the eccentric friend of so-and-so’s is a head case, based on initial impressions and no more than a few remarks that came out of her mouth, or deciding the argumentative guy is an arrogant tosser who does not deserve another second of your acquaintance, thereby dismissing these two to the black hole of memory’s oblivion.
I pride myself on being a non-judgemental person but I am also aware of the fact that one has to be super-human in order to avoid perceptions of varying degrees. We all perceive our surroundings and fellow humans in our own way, as they pass by the peripheries or venture a minute longer into the spotlight of our perception; that is the only way we, as humans, know how to cope with the world and the daily deluge of sights and sounds that crowd us. I cannot put my hand on my heart and honestly say I do not have any perceptions of people around me, God knows, they have perceptions of me; they have had perceptions of me all my life. CQ the cold one, CQ the quiet one, CQ the aloof one... In fact, their perceptions of me has coloured my judgement of myself so much so that even today, as bubbly as I am in social situations, I still think of myself as aloof and quiet.
Over the last fifteen years of my life, I have made a conscious effort of using the perceptions those people who were honest and courageous enough to share with me, in order to mould myself and develop the way I present myself and hence am perceived. Do I seem arrogant? What can I do to show people I am not? Do I seem too lacking in self-esteem? Is it the way I carry myself or the sound of my voice when I speak? How can I work on myself so that the next time I walk into a room I exude nothing but confidence and strength?
I believe other people’s perceptions help build us whereas their judgements hinder us. I try to keep my distance from judgemental people as I believe as soon as you’ve judged me, you have decided in your mind not to give yourself the chance to get to really know me. As far as I am concerned, if someone is not willing to make the effort and have already pulled the shutters of their mind down, they are not worth the breath I waste in talking or the sleep I lose in thinking about them.
Our friends, true friends, do not judge us – or at least, they are not supposed to. But they are, if they are indeed true friends, supposed to tell us exactly how we are perceived in the outside - and not often friendly - world, so we use those perceptions as building blocks towards self-knowledge and self-development. The first step of that journey, however, is acceptance – not denial, not self-defence - that indeed every word we say, or even the way we say it creates a perception, and there may be some perceptions of ourselves we may not always be 100% comfortable with.
When I open my mouth to speak my mind, I do so with the intention of treating friends the way I’d like to be treated: with honesty and caring. Yet as much as I can debate definitions with the best of them, I know – or I learn along the way – which battles to take on and which ones to leave alone.