In our day-to-day life we often pass judgments on other people without even noticing that we do. We judge and we compare ourselves to others. We compare achievements; we compare appearance; we compare education and intellect; we even compare social behavior and social acceptance. Remember Susan Boyle? Remember how everyone judged her by what she looked like, by what romantic experience she had (or didn’t have), and by the dream she dared to have (in her age and with her looks!).
It’s similar with cultures. We judge each new culture and its people from the point of view of how it compares to our own. That especially becomes true if are in the grips of Culture Shock and nothing is going right. However, each comparison is ultimately an illusion – an illusion that creates either a superiority or inferiority complex. Both these complexes contribute to misunderstandings between people; prevent them from truly knowing each other, and make it this much harder to build bridges and friendships. If you judge someone to be better than you, how easy is it going to be for you to establish the connection? Or, if you judge that person to be worse than you, would you even want to make a connection? The process of judging doesn’t only make you feel bad, but it also robs you of an opportunity to open your mind and soul to an experience that can change your life. It stops you from enjoying new things from an “uncluttered” — from judgments — perspective.
Being in judgment is one of the horsemen of apocalypse as identified by Dr. John Gottman in his research on successful marriages and in his book, 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work. Gottman says that allowing this horseman to run rampant and allowing it to persist in a marriage pretty much dooms the marriage. It’s similar with cultures. If you keep judging a culture and its people, you’ll never “make friends” with it/them and, thus, you’ll never adjust enough to live a happy life there.
So stay judgment-free. Consider everyone and everything as it comes into your life – new, exciting, and full of possibilities to explore.
And if you need any help with this and with Culture Shock, have a look at our Culture Shock Tool Kit E-book where we offer 3 tips on how to manage Culture Shock (some tips are based on Dr. Gottman’s research). Available in English, Russian, Spanish, and French!