It seems that people these days are getting more and more comfortable being judgmental about those around them. “Fred is an idiot.” “Susan is totally out of her league.” “Ralph is just plain stupid.” “Betsy is clueless” – we hear these kinds of pompous proclamations all the time.

Where does this bizarre need for trashing the people around us come from? Who knows. Perhaps it stems from the U.S. radio and television political ‘shock jocks’ who continually try to outdo each other with the level of their inane vitriol. Perhaps it’s the over-the-top characters like American Idol’s Simon Cowell or Hell’s Kitchen’s Gordon Ramsay, who have made rudeness almost fashionable. Perhaps it’s just some people’s way of making themselves feel somehow powerful.

But is it really a behaviour we want to adopt? One powerful exercise we do in our internal customer service training programs is to ask people who they might consider to be role models, or individuals who exhibit characteristics we might aspire to. Some names come up virtually every time, regardless of where we are – Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, and a number of others (even Oprah Winfrey!). When we ask about the qualities of these people that make them good role-models, the two that come up most frequently are their compassion, and that they made a positive difference to the people around them. They championed causes. Yes, they challenged people’s belief structures, policies and politics, but they were above running around calling people names. Now think of the people you might consider to be role models. How many make a practice of bad-mouthing everybody around them?

If you are really interested in building your network and strengthening your ability to connect with the people around you, lose the judgmental commentary. Nobody wants to be around someone who they fear is constantly judging them. Take a tip from the world’s greatest role models, and look to make a positive difference.

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