#BlogElul Day 19: Judge

“Don’t judge me” is a pretty common theme these days, a catch-all phrase meant to say “I know many won’t approve, but I gotta be me!”

While often found on social media, where people post pictures of their fried-oreo-wrapped-in-chocolate-waffle-with-a-donut-on-top-breakfast (“THIS is a healthy way to start the day! Don’t judge me!”), the phrase can be found in the IT world as well (I’ll leave the pictures to your imagination)

  • Picture of my server rack. I’ll organize the cables some day. Don’t judge me.
  • 100 lines of code instead of a for loop. Don’t judge me.
  • 100 meter cable to connect the two sides of my data center. Don’t judge me.
  • Cleaned off my desk, and it still looks like this. Don’t judge me.

However, the phrase “don’t judge me” betrays an inherent bias on the part of the speaker. It implies that others will not only judge, but judge negatively. That isn’t the only way to judge.

Earlier this week, I wrote about “Ask” – and how in IT asking can lead to frustration because of a communication breakdown between the ask-er (us) and the ask-ee (management).

BUT… I pointed out that, when the relationship is good, everyone is working toward a positive overall outcome. Sometimes that means the answer is “yes”, sometimes “no”, sometimes “not now”, etc.

The same is true for our bias toward judgement. Imagine a work environment where the relationship are all good:

  • When they see the rats nest of cables on the rack, the response is “wow, I can only imagine the fires you were putting out that led to you not having time to do this the way you would want. Let me see how I can help you so you have time to revisit this.
  • Or when they see that 100-line script, they say “I can set up a couple of hours with Joe over in development, and you two can use this to improve your skills”
  • Or when they see the 100-meter cable, they say “You’re right. We’ve put off the redesign of the floor plan too long. Can you share your experience so we get it right the first time?”

Of course, judging favorably works both ways. This is a perfect time to start checking our judgements as they come up, and making sure we’re giving those around us the same benefit we would like from them.