Three Traits of Judgmental People


A judgmental person is like a porcupine. If you get too close, you could get hurt! Judgmental people have three common traits: They are overly critical, they show no respect for the person they criticize, and they justify what they say because they believe it is the truth. People can become judgmental due to their pride, their hurt and anger at being wronged, and a lack of love for others. Three ways to overcome being judgmental include self-reflection, forgiveness, and seeing the whole person.

The word judgmental is defined as “having or displaying an excessively critical point of view.”1 The first trait of a judgmental person is they criticize too much.

No one can handle being criticized all the time. It puts a strain on a relationship because the person being criticized feels unloved. Further, when someone is too critical, it is human nature not to like them. A judgmental person repels others, and will have a hard time forming long-term relationships.

Judgmental people repel people not only because of their words, but also their tone. They will speak to (or about) a person with hatred, contempt, or disrespect. Instead of speaking calmly and rationally, they can be highly emotional—hurling insults, or using profanity.

A judgmental person will often justify the things they say because they believe it is the truth. However, the truth should not be used as a weapon to hurt someone, or destroy their self-worth.

Every human being has value and worth because they are a human being, not because they are good or bad, a success or a failure. A judgmental person often bases an individual’s worth on their character traits, or some other criteria. They are unable to separate a person from their actions.

Judgmental people often believe they are superior to the person they are criticizing. In looking down on others, the judgmental person has an ego problem: a heart filled with pride.

In addition to pride, a person can become judgmental when they are angry at being wronged by someone. Hurt and wounded inside, their heart can grow cold, and they harshly judge the person who mistreated them.

Whatever the root cause, a judgmental person has a heart that lacks love and respect for other people. The danger in being judgmental is that once you feel hatred, contempt, or disrespect for one human being, it becomes easier to transfer these feelings to another.

One way to stop being judgmental is through self-reflection, by recognizing that everyone has faults. The more a person self-reflects, and realizes their own shortcomings, the easier it is to love and accept people as they are.

Another way to stop being judgmental is to forgive the person who wronged us. Forgiveness doesn’t change what the person has done, but it will set us free inside, so we can let go of being hurt, angry, or offended.

A third way to stop being judgmental is to open our eyes and see the whole person. A judgmental person will often hyper-focus on someone’s negative traits, making them blind to their positive qualities. If we can see the whole person, it is much easier to love them.

Instead of being judgmental, we should be selective in our criticism. When a person does something wrong, sometimes it is better to say nothing, to overlook people’s minor flaws and shortcomings. The more you criticize others, the more you will be criticized, and the less likely people will listen to you.

Nonetheless, there are times when we have a duty to speak. For instance, if a person is hurting us (or someone else), it is right and just to speak the truth to make them stop. In some instances, we may have to be bold and direct. However, before we correct someone, we should show them love and respect. When a person feels loved and respected, they are more likely to listen to us when we tell them the truth.


  1. Oxford Dictionaries, s.v. “Judgmental,” accessed October 27, 2016,

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What it Means to be Judgmental: Separate Tables (1958)

separate tablesDelbert Mann’s Separate Tables (1958) sheds light on an often misunderstood subject: what it means to be judgmental. It is not judgmental to believe or declare that a person’s actions are wrong; it is to look down on the person for their wrong actions and reject them. A judgmental person is the moral equivalent of a racist: Whereas a racist believes their race is superior to other races, a judgmental person believes they are superior to a member of the human race.

Mrs. Railton-Bell (Gladys Cooper) believes that she is better than other people. As a member of the English upper class, she has “no curiosity about the working classes” and refers to Major Pollock (David Niven) as an “awfully common little man.” Looking down on the Major increases her self-worth, making her feel superior to him. With her wealth and fortune, Mrs. Railton-Bell is judgmental because of her pride.

A person is not judgmental if they declare that someone’s actions are morally wrong. John Malcolm (Burt Lancaster) says, “I feel repelled by what the Major has done.” Similarly, Sibyl Railton-Bell (Deborah Kerr) says, “it made me sick.” Major Pollock was found guilty of criminal behavior in a movie theater. Although his exact actions are unclear, he sat next to a woman and “attempted to take other liberties” with her. John and Sybil are repelled by what the Major did because they have a conscience. They are not being judgmental by expressing their moral convictions.

To be judgmental is to devalue and disparage someone because of their wrong actions. Mrs. Railton-Bell devalues the Major, calling him “that horrible man.” She condemns him as a human being and wants him evicted from the Hotel Beauregard. In contrast, Sybil only condemns what the Major did, separating the man from his actions. With his head in his hands, he is deeply ashamed and does not defend himself. Unlike her mother, Sybil loves the Major. She does not treat him with contempt or reject him.

A judgmental person will shun people they consider inferior. In the climax of the film, Mrs. Railton-Bell ignores the Major, while John, Sybil, and the other residents make conversation with him. Although no one approves of his past actions, they accept him as a human being and treat him with kindness and respect. Their actions demonstrate what it means to be a non-judgmental person: While it is right to sometimes confront someone for the wrong that they have done, if the person admits to it and is remorseful, then we should be compassionate and forgiving.

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