Fear Harsh Judgement?… Why you don’t need too
I’ve publically humiliated myself…more than once. Trust me you're defnitely not alone.
So do people actually remember?
Chances are others aren’t judging you as much as you think. Research shows that far fewer people notice than we believe and of those who do notice, most don’t judge as harsh as we imagine.
Good to know right?
We have a distorted view about the degree to which people pay attention to us. Studies have shown that people can over-estimate by up to six times the number of people who notice them!
This means that if you can learn to recognise when your doing this self-deception you can use it to help to soothe the anxiety that surrounds social interactions.
So do we actually judge others?
The short answer is yes. Assuming we notice, we can have an initial negative judgement of other people. For example if you see someone trip up, you may think they are uncoordinated. If you see someone is wearing something unflattering you may have a negative judgement.
But the harsh judgment is often short-lived. For others, we will likely moderate our initial judgment immediately after the thought. We go on to empathise with their situation or we will take into account the context and explain or excuse the behaviour. That is of course, if we continue to give the judgement any further thought at all.
So essentially, we rarely notice, we then rarely go on to give judgements further thought. But on the occasions we do we are quite forgiving of others, but for ourselves we dramatically overestimate the frequency to which people notice.
I encourage you to watch your thoughts following your next harsh judgment. Does your mind moderate the thought immediately after? Based on research it likely will!
So why is there this distortion?
It makes evolutionary sense. You’re better off being hypersensitive and reducing the risk of being excluded by a group. Historically, the cost of being excluded may have been life or death. You need the group to survive, therefore this distortion makes evolutionary sense for us to develop.
So how does this help me now?
Many people feel that their nervousness is transparent. However, research also shows that it is not. Think about it, often the signs of nervousness include increased rate of breathe, tightness in the chest, feeling wobbly in the legs and sweating. All largely unobservable. So the plus is your nervousness will make you more considerate of others in social situations and will likely make you increase preparation and likely improve your performance not make you worse! Should you make an error people are unlikely to notice and highly likely to moderate any judgement.
So remind yourself… it’s not all about you.
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