Semantics: Judgement vs. Evaluation


Perhaps you’ve heard “The measure you give will be the measure you get”. It applies to a teaching of non-judgement. It dovetails well into the golden rule of “Treat others as you would want to be treated”. The aim of this notion is always outward. Not only is there an inherent good in simply making a decision, there’s an even higher good when desiring goodness for the other. Goodness is without judgement, doubt, fear, etc — and yet the exhort is seemingly directed to others only.

Perhaps I was late to the party on this notion, but the idea applies to yourself as well.

“DON’T JUDGE YOURSELF.” Is it really so strange? A similar and more common phrase that encapsulates this notion is “Don’t be so hard on yourself”. I think self-judgement has its place, but I take issue with the semantic. It’s a case of mere preference, but I use “self-evaluation”. In that same vain, we’re asked not to ‘judge’ others, but therein lies a vacuum. We have to resolve how we perceive or feel about someone, right? If not for our own safety at least.

Judgement implies an authoritative or entitled discernment of one’s character. There’s typically a kind of “corrective”, “righteous”, or “deterministic” tone featured with demonstrating judgement.

Evaluation neutrally, indifferent and without bias, finds resolve empirically based on one’s behavior.

Regarding evaluation, we can think of becoming little anthropologists.  We observe and record the data. We then dryly look to the data to decide if it conflicts with our personal values. We then discern and decide if the kind of behavior, based on the data, agrees or disagrees with us. We can then be healthily dualistic in our thinking. It, the object or the issue, either stays or goes. From a practical standpoint, being binary promotes healthy evaluations and leads to healthier decision making.

To circle back, it likely better to EVALUATE ourselves/others and not JUDGE ourselves/others. Judgement, in most cases, tends towards shame, doubt, guilt, and cultivates fears to grow and casts unwanted shadows. Evaluation simply takes you back to the chalk board to reassess the formula.


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