Offensive Judging and Defensive Judging

Not all judgments are the same, although we should try to judge less. First, a short joke that shows the difference between offensive judging and defensive judging.

An elephant asked a camel, “Why are your breasts on your back?”

“Well,” said the camel, “I think that’s an inappropriate question from somebody whose dick is on his face.”

Offensive Judging: The Elephant

Sometimes we are like the elephant. The camel is minding his own business, and we just have to ask that provocative question or make that insensitive statement.

I was an elephant three days ago. I used language on someone else that made me blush. Although I did it in jest rather than criticism, it was completely uncalled for.

When was the last time you were an elephant and initiated judgment on another person who was just minding their own business?

Defensive Judging: The Camel

At other times we are like the camel. The elephant makes an offensive remark that reflects his character more than ours, yet we react and stoop to the same level.

I was a camel yesterday. Somebody made a rude comment about my country and I leapt to its defence by pointing out the imperfections of the country that person came from.

When was the last time you were a camel and judged another person in defence to being judged yourself?

Avoid judging

Although we tend to judge others who are different from us, the elephant and camel remind us why we should avoid both offensive and defensive judging:

1. For every judgment, there is an equal and opposite judgment.

2. Whether you judge offensively or defensively, remember you look quite stupid to the other person!

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33 replies on “Offensive Judging and Defensive Judging”

@ Tom, I’m sure I’m living under some beliefs that I could challenge and discard if I sat down to think about them someday. I do notice that each year I let go of a few that do not make sense or serve my anymore. That’s your goal with your blog right? I think you’re doing great work there.

@ Henie, you make me smile too! Yes I think it is the ostrich which buries its head in the sand. And I am flattered that you want me to guest post on your site. We’ll certainly be in touch about this! Thank you for bringing so much good cheer here, Henie.

Hmm, you make a good point Tom. I wonder how many of my judgments are ‘inherited’ from my parents’ way of thinking, or religion as you say. And gosh, how much of my own judgments I have passed to other people??? Definitely some food for thought here.

Hi Tom,

I know exactly what you mean about someone from the ‘outside’ giving us a negative opinion, because it’s much easier accepting it from someone on the ‘inside’ who is ‘one of us’. Perhaps part of it is biological, though of course that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to rein it in. Thanks for the lively discussion, Tom!

BTW, again! 🙂

I would love to have you guest post on my site…it would be an honor! 🙂

Please let me know…you always make me smile! 🙂


You do have a way of writing very powerful posts with great lessons attached…Thank You!

What comes up for me is this…

“We can never resolve anything by condemning it!” ~Henie~

I certainly don’t want to be the elephant nor the camel but I also don’t want to be an ostrich and bury my head! (Wait, is it the ostrich that buries it’s head?…hmmm:))

You shouldn’t feel bad Daphne, majority of people don’t even realize this. They instead live in an illusion.

But the funny, well more like sad, is that people let these beliefs hold them back. I mean it is not like there is a wall in front of them, it is all in the mind.
So instead they justify it by making excuses and complaining.

I am glad you are enjoying the discussion, and so is everyone else.

I am not sure if its biological, but it could be.
What I do know is that it is definitely social programming. Programming that has gone on for years to get us to think and act a certain way. It starts with school, church, social settings and also at home.
It’s not like this just started, it has been passed on from generation to generation.

@ Tess, I laughed out loud at the comment about sons-in-laws. They are never good enough for your daughters, right? 🙂 I also love the quote you meant for Lance – “In my defenselessness lies my safety.” Wow, profound yet I think I can understand it. Thanks so much for that!

@ Stacey, wasn’t that from the Jungle Book, sung by Baloo the Bear? “If you can’t say something nice, if you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all… then don’t say anything at all”. I love that song. Thanks for reminding me to do this!

Hi Juliet,

The cartoon said it all, didn’t it? Yes we live our own different worlds, and tend to forget this. Thanks for your equally punchy comment!

@ Tom, you’re so right about judging based on one word. All it takes is someone saying a single word we don’t like to hear, and we foget all the other dozens of words that were complimentary to us, focusing on the single word that we feel is offensive. I also like your idea that sometimes we intoxicate the environment with our thoughts!

@ Andre, interesting comparison with racism. Nobody ever admits to it, yet most of us practise it to some degree, however minute. It is hard to unlearn too, as you point out. Thanks for adding this dimension to the post – I appreciate it!

I don’t think its a lack of information but the beliefs we have been led to believe by society.

The moment we see someone from the outside come in and give us their word, we jump to defending ourselves.
In reality, everyone has different experiences and the worst you can do is follow someone elses belief thinking it is the “right” one. Such as religion.

Judging…hurts and often is a result of not having enough information or it comes from a place of fear.

Reminds me of the saying “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

We are so used to judging, defending ourselves (guilty, as charged!) rather than having compassion. That’s really what it’s all about. I think it’s also about transparency. Instead of judging, we become more explicit with our statements and questions – seeking truth rather than assumption.

I’m guilty of judging my son-in-laws. Shhh don’t tell anyone! I do believe that what ever we judge another for or about we will find ourselves doing within the next 24 hours.

I tell my clients “you spot it you got it.”

Also to Lance there is a lesson in A Course In Miracles…”In my defenselessness my safety lies.” It’s a good one to remember.

Hi Daphne

Nice and too the point – with lots of punch!

People can live in very different paradigms and I think we need to be aware of it.


That’s hilarious! I’ve never of elephants and camels that way.

All jokes aside, not being judgmental is one of the hardest things all of us have to learn. It’s like racism. We don’t like it yet we all have our own biases.

Hi Ian,

Thanks for sharing your personal experience so honestly. It was very refreshing. You’re right that sometimes we can be our own harshest critics in judging ourselves for judging others! What a tangled web we weave…

Paying attention to our thoughts is what I learn in meditation and it really does work. To observe without judgment is the key here, whether with ourselves or with other people.

Your point it taken. Just as it is possible to feel an emotion without acting on it, it is possible to experience a judgment without acting on it. Thanks for your insightful comment, Ian!

I gotta say the first 3 paragraphs are hilarious.

It is interesting how most of us judge based on literally one word they hear.

The problem lies that, that person had the courage to express their thoughts while you didn’t and instead you are just intoxicating the environment.

@ Robin, you’re so right. There is no way we can know everything, yet often we judge based on seriously limited information. You just gave me a new question to ask myself. Instead of “What do I think of this person?” I can ask “What do I know of this person?” Thanks!

@ Lance, I’m more prone to defensive judging as well. It is so much harder to withhold judgment about someone when that person’s finger is pointing right in our face. The day I can calmly look at a person who is spitting in my face and still have only kind thoughts about that person is probably the day I reac nirvana 🙂 You have a great too, Lance!

@ Arswino, I’m glad you liked the cartoon. I laughed when I saw it too. Initially I intended to post just the cartoon and nothing else as a post in itself, since it spoke a thousand words. Perhaps that would have been a good idea!

@ Giovanna, very true about the fingers. That is visually easy to understand too!

Hi Daphne

Nice story to illustrate this!

I used to be one of those who was very judgemental of other people. Then I saw just how damaging it was for me and decided to stop it. I did realise that my judgements of others were more a reflection of my own stuff and not really about them at all. Guess what? I then started judging myself every time one of those judgemental thoughts popped into my head. I can’t say that was any healthier!!!!

Nowadays I try to pay attention to my thinking and just notice whenever a judgement or criticism appears. From time to time it does come out of my mouth, but I think I’m then pretty good at realising it and doing something constructive about it.

I guess my point is I don’t think it’s possible (unless you are VERY enlightened) to prevent judgemental thoughts and I’m very suspicious of anyone who claims not to have them at all. It is possible to change what we do with them though.

@ Trey, that was a very wise comment. That’s what I aspire to be… ‘very wise’! 😉

@ Nate, you’re right, it is so hard not to judge. You got me thinking… does someone who is not a lady have the right to be ‘unladylike’? Now there’s an amusing brain-twister!

@ Michelle, yes it’s really difficult not to jump to self-defence isn’t it? Very few people can release their need to.

@ Jay, the deleted email draft is a great idea. I’ve never regretted an angry email I did not send, and have regretted many that I did! Good point there.

@ Tina, you made a good point. We start comparing and judging from a very young age. I wonder why – whether it’s inbuilt or do we just pick up the habit from the adults in our lives. Thanks for your comment!

@ Carlota, I’m you liked 1. I did too, made me feel kind of ‘Newton-ish’ smart, ha ha. And your point is a very good one – it’s the self judgment that comes after judging others that may be the harshest and most damaging. Thanks for adding this great insight, Carlota.

@ Broderick, I’m definitely not there yet either, and the scary thing is that sometimes I don’t even want to be! It can be quite fun, in a perverse way, being immature. Sigh.

@ Vered, you made a good point about the need for affirmation, and finding this through judging others. I’m certainly very guilty of this too. I like your point about making silent judgments – the ones only we know about. Sometimes those are the least kind thoughts I’ve ever had.

Hi Daphne

Your story reminded me of when ever you point a finger at someone. There will be 2 of your fingers point at them, but 3 of your fingers are pointing back at you.

Thank you,
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Hi Daphne, this is truly a funny and also inspiring story. I was laugh when I read the answer of the camel. 🙂
Most of the times it’s easier for us to see other’s weakness instead of our own. I like the inside of the story.
Thanks for sharing, Daphne.

Hi Daphne,
Judging…how often do we do it? And another kind of judging is when we do it behind someone’s back. And I’m guilty of that one and two you mentioned. I certainly try not to, yet sometimes it just comes out. The most difficult one for me is defensive judging – when I’m trying to defend a point by judging another. Why?

And I think Robin says it so well – and this is something I “try” to remember. We don’t have all the information – or – we’ve not walked in their shoes – so who are we to judge. When I follow this thought logic, I do much better. Because I see that just because we differ, that doesn’t make you wrong and me right – or vice versa.

Have a great weekend Daphne!

Very true. I think a lot of wise people have found that it doesn’t help the situation to stoop to the level of the elephant. It is best to try to rise above the situation, and be “better” than that.

Hi there Daphne – nice discussion about judgement!

I think we need to remember that we are not in a postion to judge anything, because we don’t ever have all the information.

Cheers – Robin

I’m not sure why, but people seem to have a need to feel “better” than others. Judging or criticizing others (even silently, not sharing the criticism with them) is often simply a way to feel better about ourselves. I’ve certainly been guilty of both behaviors you described.

I think it takes a lot of maturity and awareness to not have to get down in the defensive judging mode. I’m not there yet, but I’d like to be.

This was yet another great post Daphne!
So true about “1. For every judgment, there is an equal and opposite judgment.” I liked how you put it! I will remember the equal and opposite judgment, haha.

I’d like to add that not only do you look stupid to the other person, but you will probably criticize yourself for judging them…and that is where the deeper, possibly long-term damage exists.

Great post Daphne. It is so easy to quickly judge in today’s society because we are taught how at an early age. We start out with something as simple as “My dad is better than yours,” or “I have a cooler snack than you,” and the next thing you know, we are adults passing judgment on everyone.

Very honest post Daphne. It is easy to jump back in defense- we need to remember that other people’s attacks are thier ego’s acting out- do not let their ego bring out the dark side of yours. That is why email is so great- I get a nasty email, and I can type up a nasty response, and then delete it and replace it with a nod and smile email.

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