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By Kaitlyn Dunagan

We live in a world where we are judged by our appearance, our words, and our actions the second we meet someone. In certain situations, this makes sense. Judgments can be used to properly assess a situation where your safety could be compromised and our actions can portray who we really are but when taken too far it leaves little room for grace and flaws and can lead to prejudice. No room for bad days, loving people where they are at — socially, emotionally, spiritually, etc. and choosing to walk them through it.

Because we are not naturally altruistic, we must make kindness a practice. Judging first and asking questions later leads to an unhealthy practice of assuming. We may assume because someone wears certain clothing that they are a certain way. Not that they are wearing those clothes because that is all they can afford or it is simply what they enjoy. And has nothing to do with their sense of morality. Or assuming because someone stated a thought without thinking, once or even a couple of times, that they are unintelligent. Not because they were having a personal crisis and let off steam in an inappropriate manner.

We need to remember flaws are excellent educators and help shape us just as much as our successes do; that our visual appearance matters less than how we treat others. Also, the fact there are ways to figure out someone’s true character aside from judging them. Whether it be a complete stranger or an acquaintance, here are 10 things you can do instead of judging someone before you really get to know them.

1. Let your ideas about others evolve; accept that people change by changing your mind, too. First impressions can be inaccurate assessors of a person’s true character but it will still take away some of your assumptions or affirm them. Just remember people are constantly evolving.

2. If a person’s action is attached to an injustice, do something about it. Speak out against it and know you do not have to be the best public speaker to do so.

3. Refrain from complaining about what people do or don’t do. Instead, ask yourself what really bothers you about it. Get to the bottom of the issue, rather than mindlessly complaining about it. Action trumps inaction.

4. Ask why they think they way they do. Getting the answer straight from the source is the best option for you when getting to know someone.

5. Recognize that beliefs that conflict with your own are still valid. You are as wrong to them as they are wrong to you. If you accept this, it will humble you.

6. If conflict is involved, disengage until egos have simmered down, then address the real issues present. Most arguments are fueled by the presence of a ticked off ego. Remove yourself from the situation until you can both discuss an issue rationally.

7. Compliment them and mean it. Try to dig deeper than appearance. This may have to happen later on in the conversation but it will show that you are paying attention.

8. Make them laugh. Choose a universally funny joke and avoid anything that may be harmful to your fellow human being. This is not “walking on eggshells,” it is being considerate.

9. Ask questions about the things they seem to be passionate about. Stray away from excessive small talk but don’t be too intrusive. Ask questions that show a real interest in who they are as a person.

10. Look at what you need to do to improve yourself. It is easy to point out other people’s flaws and avoid looking at our own. It is important to realize people are on their own journey of self-discovery.

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