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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Internal Factors That Judge Each Others

We know, we are judging others when we meet with others. We judge about their presence, personality, dressing, and also try to identify different criteria of that person during the time we meet with them. The basic judgment is completed by some internal factors that influence us to do so.

To have success in communication, we must need to know the factors with which others will evaluate me and my traits. Because, if we know the factors, then we can work with those factors for our improvement in communication skill.

These internal factors, as I call them, are persons:

  • Attitudes and perceptions
  • Values and pressures
  • Prejudices and preconceived ideas
Attitudes and perceptions

We need to be aware that the people we meet will come fully programmed with their own attitudes and their perceptions of us. Likewise we will have ours of them. This could, if not recognized and accepted, influence the exchange between us.

Poor managers often fail to recognize this. They tend to think that other people have the same attitude as them i.e. they are ambitious and want promotion. The manager may be motivated by reaching goals and receiving monetary rewards – isn’t everyone? No, of course they’re not, we are all different. Different people are motivated in different ways.*

So what forms our attitudes? Well, our exposure to previous experiences, information about that person, or even ‘type of person’, or the situation in which we are meeting them can all form our attitudes.

Values And Pressure

We all develop values, a frame of reference through which we see the world and the way things are. We love to categorize people, to think in stereotypes, because it helps us to place a value on ourselves and gives credence to the world in which we live. Of course, this stereotyping can, and often is, completely inaccurate and hence the way we communicate can be wrong from the start.

This can often be seen in industrial relations, the ‘them’ and ‘us’ scenario. Trade unions are greedy or bullying and management exploitative and selfish. In the so called ‘professions’ lawyers, accountants and teachers are often referred to as ‘professionals’ while secretaries and clerks are often referred to as ‘support staff’. Categorizing makes identification easier; if we know the other person’s status then we know how to communicate with them, don’t we? Wrong.

The more open-minded you can be when communicating with another person and the more you can see their viewpoint through their values (which may not be yours at all) the more you can understand them and perhaps engage the right tactics i.e. expressions, body language, voice, and vocabulary to relate to them.


We also inherit prejudices and beliefs from our parents, guardians, teachers, religious leaders, friends and many others. Perhaps we have been ‘conditioned’ not to like or understand people who are from a different culture? Perhaps we have been ‘conditioned’ to believe we are superior to others because of our education or social standing. Or we may be prejudiced towards someone because of his or her gender or his or her size. If this is so then we take those prejudices with us when we meet someone face-to-face and these prejudices can influence the whole exchange between us and that person and as a result we may be patronizing or hostile towards them.

It is hard to clear your mind of prejudices before meeting someone because instinctively, as I mentioned before, we try and place people in order to give us a framework for reacting with them, but that framework can be very wonky to begin with.

We are also influenced or conditioned by what we read and see in the media. Women are meant to behave in this way, men in that way, we should look tall, small, thin, beautiful and so on … It is no wonder we’re confused most of the time. Finding yourself and being comfortable with who you are is an important part of becoming a more confident communicator.

Preconceived ideas

We may have preconceived ideas about the person we are communicating with because we have been told something about them. This has happened to me many times in the course of my career. I may be conducting a training course, giving a seminar or going to a meeting and someone has told me to look out for so and so because they are really difficult and hostile. This could color my view of that person if I allowed it to. I might go into the meeting really worried about dealing with that person or thinking, ‘I’ll handle them, they won’t get the better of me’, and therefore act aggressively towards them before they have even had a chance to speak! Or I might be thinking, ‘I hope they’ll be all right. What if I can’t handle them?’ and therefore I might behave submissively, giving out a poor impression and allowing myself to be walked all over.

What usually happens is the ‘difficult person’ is no trouble at all. They are not difficult with me, not because they’ve suddenly changed overnight but because I have not allowed any preconceived ideas to interfere with the way I have communicated with them. I have kept an open mind and tried to listen to them and understand where they are coming from.

Sometimes the circumstances in which you meet someone, the location and/or the status of the person you are meeting will influence you. If a top movie star walked into the room how would you behave? If you were introduced to the Queen of England or the President of the United States of America would you be overawed? I would be and as a result I might burble away talking nonsense or I might completely clam up. That would be quite understandable in the circumstances. But sometimes it needn’t be anyone that famous: it could be the boss of your company; it could be your mother-in-law, or father-in-law who you perceive to be, ‘better’ than you.

If you allow this thought process to continue unchecked then it will eat away at your confidence and affect how you feel towards them and ultimately how you behave and communicate towards them.
No one is better than you. Everyone is different. Value your individuality.