These terms are often used interchangeably. However, I see a difference.
Assessing is when you notice things about him. He’s 6-feet tall, blue eyed, with dark curly hair. He has a little paunch, slouches, and interrupts often. He makes eye contact and speaks clearly.
Judging is when you put a value on what you see. He’s tall — great! His eyes are beautiful, his hair luxuriant. His interrupting is annoying. He must have low self-esteem because he slouches. He’s lazy, thus the paunch.
No one likes to be judged, but I’m afraid we frequently do it. We watch people in a coffee shop or an airport and go from noticing to judging in a nanosecond. The guy with the sour look on his face? He must be a grump. The woman with unkempt hair? Must not care about how she looks. The man with rippling muscles under his T-shirt? Must be a gym rat.
Assessing is just noticing, not making the assessment into judgment. You’re like a tailor taking measurements without thinking “This woman has fat thighs.” He just notes the numbers without criticism.
How do you stay in assessing as long as possible with your date? You just note what you notice. You observe his physical appearance: height, weight, hair and eye color. You take in his clothing’s style, fit and quality. You mentally note what he talks about, how he listens, the questions he asks, if he interrupts, how long he talks. You watch his body language, posture, facial expressions, eye contact, smile, how he sits and walks.
The trick is to not make inferences without checking them out. Let’s take some of the examples from above:
- The paunch — He has been suffering from back and shoulder pain after a bike accident, so has not been able to exercise for months. He’s scheduled surgery soon and he’s looking forward to getting back in shape.
- The slouch — Because of his injury, it’s painful to stand up straight. After his surgery, he’ll be back into military form.
- Interrupting — His ex-wife talked non-stop and he found the only way he could get in the conversation was to interrupt her. She never said it bothered her, so it became a habit. He doesn’t even realize he does it anymore.
Once you know more, the judgments don’t hold. Ideally, put off deciding if you like or don’t like a characteristic until you know the whole story. Just notice for now.
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