We can all be judgmental at times – passing flashes where we judge others without really thinking.
But that’s a far cry from people who are judgmental all the time, in all directions. Those folks tend to be utterly exhausting with their constant criticisms.
Judgmental people tend to follow very similar patterns of behavior. And these behaviors are fairly universal – they can be seen across countries and languages and cultures.
What follows is a list of 12 signs of judgmental people. You may recognize some of these behaviors, either in other people or yourself.
Wherever you’ve seen these traits, it’s important to be aware of them. This way, you can either learn how to disarm them, or work on changing your own behavior.
1. They need to have an opinion on everything (and make that opinion known to everyone else).
You’ve likely come across this type of behavior before, either in a family member or a colleague. They’re fiercely opinionated on almost all topics, and enjoy sharing their opinions aloud to everyone who will listen.
They tend to be heavily emotionally attached to their opinion. Instead of their perspective being something that could grow and change, with them potentially evolving too, they cling to it. “This is how it is, and that’s that.”
A reasoned argument – or even a mild disagreement with their opinion – will generally result in resentment, anger, and hostility.
2. They can dish out a lot of criticism but can’t take any.
Judgmental people tend to be very free with criticizing and condemning others, but can’t take that behavior in turn. If they’re criticized, they’ll initially respond defensively, with hostility and anger, and then crumple later.
This evolves into a “victim” mentality, in which they turn things around and make it seem as though they’re being persecuted and condemned for thinking differently.
Ironic, isn’t it?
3. They make swift decisions, often based on limited and inaccurate evidence.
They will often make up their minds about a topic or a person in the blink of an eye. But this is based on very little evidence or consideration of that evidence.
Sadly, the internet doesn’t help with this. You may find that they’ll read a tweet or opinion column, and decide that what they’ve read is the absolute gospel truth.
When asked if they’ve done any additional research on the topic, they’ll once again get defensive and seek to undermine the other’s argument, rather than having an educated, reasoned discussion or debate. This is their “truth” and they will hold to it.
They might make moral evaluations about other people and situations, and use their own labels accordingly. For instance, they might quickly put others in a “good” or “bad” category, with sweeping generalizations.
They might assume that those of a particular social circle or cultural background can be legitimately dumped into a particular category, and won’t be convinced otherwise.
4. They justify their criticisms as being “truths.”
Quite often, a judgmental person will see their perspective as the “truth,” and they won’t be budged from it, regardless of any evidence to the contrary. This often manifests as their ideas about how other people should look, behave, and live.
They might choose a perceived flaw about the “other” and badger them relentlessly about that flaw. Additionally, they might gossip about this person to others in their social circle.
For them, repetition is key to breaking down the other person’s choices to make them behave the way they “should.” They’ll also try to find support from that other person’s peer group to pressure them into “better” behavior.
The sad thing is, they’re often deeply unhappy within themselves, so whatever life choices the other person makes, there will always be something new to pick on. It’s not about improving people, but breaking them down and destroying their self-esteem to make themselves feel better.
5. They follow a pattern of assume, accuse, attack.
Judgmental people will often assume something about a person, such as accusing them of a wrongdoing, and then attack them for that assumption… all without asking.
Let’s say someone is waiting for a text response and they don’t receive it within X amount of time. They might assume that the person who isn’t responding is being disrespectful. This will spiral into anger, and they may lash out at the person for their lax behavior. They might go so far as to let the other person know that they aren’t deserving of their friendship, or that they’ve damaged the family dynamic, etc. In essence, they are threatening the relationship whilst shifting the blame to the accused.
Meanwhile, the other person may not have texted back because of an emergency, or something as simple as running out of battery. The problem here is that they weren’t given the benefit of the doubt. They were simply judged and condemned without any voice of their own.
This kind of behavior often goes along with solipsism. That’s when people are unable to realize that others are sovereign, autonomous beings who don’t exist for other people’s benefit.
6. They put down others who aren’t just like them.
This kind of judgmental behavior often goes hand in hand with rampant narcissism.
Judgmental people hold very fiercely to their personal choices. The way they dress, their food choices, pastimes, etc. are generally chosen because of their perceived status. These are factors that make the person feel like they’re superior, and they’ll perceive other people’s choices as “less than” theirs.
Deep down, this is a sign of an inferiority complex or impostor syndrome. They have to attack others because they feel small and insecure in their identity and life choices.
While others in this person’s social circle are usually tolerant and welcoming, doing their best to create a harmonious accord with one another, the critic will bulldoze their way through this carefully woven web. They’ll look down on people who have different lifestyles, and may even refuse to interact with those they believe are inferior.
Again, it’s ironic because when two of these people from different sides of the spectrum clash, each will perceive the other as being the worst creature ever, when in fact they mirror one another’s behavior.
7. Their judgments of others will be counterbalanced by elevating themselves.
Just about every time they judge someone else’s choices, lifestyle, etc., they’ll hold themselves up as examples of how that other person should behave instead.
They might criticize someone else’s fitness level then brag about how many hours they spend at the gym every day. Or they’ll put down that other person’s ethical dietary choices, and then try to encourage their own. (Interestingly, their ethical choices may change regularly to follow trends.)
Ignorance and judgmental behavior often go hand in hand. For example, an individual saying they follow a strict Paleo diet of red meat and grains, despite the fact that grains are decidedly un-Paleo. But they’ll argue that they read about it somewhere and not budge from their stance.
8. They’ll have unrealistic expectations, then express disappointment when others don’t meet them.
Judgmental people often decide how they want the other people in their lives to be.
These people have a very strong idea of what the other person should be, regardless of the other’s personal disposition and expression. They have already created a certain shaped “hole” so to speak, and will cram the square peg into it regardless of pre-existing shape and preference.
The crazy thing is, the conflict exists within the judgemental person, even though they will blame the other for not meeting the standard and ideal they hold. When and if the other person doesn’t meet said expectations (because they’re individuals and not trained dogs), then they’re considered to be disappointments.
If this situation revolves around a critical parent and a child, they might force the kid away from their paint set to play baseball because they want an athlete, not an artist.
9. They’re “just trying to help.”
Many judgmental people try to conceal critical expressions and behaviors as attempts at being “helpful.” For example, they might sneer at someone else’s interior decor and tell them that they need to change the wallpaper or get more plants. Then, if the other person gets defensive, they’ll brush it off to oversensitivity and say they’re “just trying to help.”
What they’re actually saying is that they want the other person to make the same decisions that they do.
10. They focus on other people’s perceived shortcomings, and dismiss their successes.
Their friend or family member might be amazing at 99% of what they do, but the judgmental person will hone in on the one thing they don’t do well.
For example, let’s say that their spouse makes them an amazing dinner 6 days out of 7. On the 7th day, the dinner’s late and slightly overdone. Guess which day the critic will hone in on and keep mentioning?
Rather than appreciating great efforts and successes that happen on the regular, their energy is focused on belittling the other for simple human error.
11. They deny that they are their own problem.
All issues are always someone else’s fault. The individual in question feels they have no negative impact, and therefore no accountability in the situation.
If everyone else behaved the way they feel they should, then everything would be fine. They know best in terms of how others should look, behave, speak, think etc.
They’ll be offended and upset if they’re called out for judgmental behavior, and will insist that they’re only telling it like it is. If the people they’re criticizing would only behave properly, then there wouldn’t be any need to say anything negative.
Again, when two openly judgmental people get together, take a step back, and make some popcorn.
12. They try to control everything around them.
Judgmental people usually have intense control issues, which often stem from fear. They might feel that they don’t have control over various aspects of their own lives. As a result, they seek to govern and control others.
They might feel insecure about their own life choices, so they’re desperate to be reassured that they’ve chosen well. The way to do this is to push others to make the same decisions, thus validating their own choices.
Those who are perceived as the opposite of themselves are often unwelcome or considered inferior.
You may also like:
- How To Deal With Judgmental People: 6 No Bullsh*t Tips!
- 9 Psychological Reasons Why Some People Are So Judgmental
- How To Be Less Judgmental And Stop Judging People (And Yourself) So Harshly
- The 6 Ways We Judge People When We First Meet Them
- 15 Truths To Help You Overcome Your Fear Of Being Judged