These two words may sound similar but how we affect others when we are judicious could not be more different than how we affect them when we are judgmental.

Who wouldn’t want a reputation for being judicious? Wouldn’t you? On the other hand, I don’t think anyone sets out to be judgmental.

Now sometimes a judicious person can get a bad rap for being judgmental just because people tend to label any view that is less-than-affirming of their beliefs or choices as judgmental. This is an unfortunate illustration of what happens when we don’t maintain the integrity of words and their definitions.

But most of us have to work at actually not judging others, at not deserving that label.

The best way I know to avoid being judgmental is to realize that it’s part of human nature and to remember that if I don’t recognize the tendency in myself, I can easily fall into it.

I came up with the following to try to stay on the right track. Let me know if you find it helpful:

It is judicious to seek out the facts.
It is judgmental to jump to conclusions.

It is judicious to listen to what people have to say.
It is judgmental to ascribe motives to people without hearing them out.

It is judicious to uphold principles as landmarks for one’s choices and behavior.
It is judgmental to be unkind to those who either do not choose to believe or live up to those principles.

It is judicious to choose one’s closest friends/mentors/influencers from those with shared principles.
It is judgmental to shun those who do not share our principles.

Judicious people are concerned with what is right.
Judgmental people are concerned with being right.

Judicious people recognize their own tendency to be judgmental; it actually helps them to detect and reject their own self-righteousness.
Judgmental people recognize other people’s tendency to be judgmental but not their own; they usually mistake their self-righteousness for righteous indignation.

When judicious people are questioned about their choices, they may not like it, but will think it over to see if the questions should merit their concern.
When judgmental people are questioned about their choices, they are likely to dismiss the person who asks as judgmental.