When we make up our mind on something or someone, we set our focus on our decision, and subconsciously, we seek validation to this opinion, therefore believing we are correct. But is this true? Or are judging based on little depth of understanding?

How often do we form opinions about someone based on a moment, a situation, or behaviour over a relatively short period of time?

For instance, you have a team member who historically has worked hard, delivered on all projects, is personable, and has a solid track record within the company. However, over a period of time, it slowly becomes evident the individual is becoming distracted, is perhaps no longer being as productive, does not wish to engage as expected, may have some sick days, and may come across not as friendly as a result of mood swings. What’s the opinion you are forming over the time?

Are there grumbles amongst team members, complaining or moaning about the employee? Do you believe they are frustrated and looking for a new job? Are you seeing them as unproductive, disruptive, disengaged? What are you doing to assess, fully and without judgement?

It’s all too easy to label an individual as ‘dead weight’, ‘disruptive’, or even a ‘bad apple’ within the team. Yet is this truly the case?

Instead of judgement, get curious, and look beyond the outer skin of a situation.

If an employee is behaving differently to what was previously the norm, ask yourself ‘what is happening, what is going on in the office and background?’. Allow yourself to explore the situation from different angles, and challenge your initial opinions – and from others.

At times, it can be challenging to verbalise what is going on in our lives, and instead, any psychological struggles may be shown in other ways, particularly through behaviour.

Negative behaviour from a team member does not always mean they are a bad apple, and should leave the business. Instead, the person may be a bit bruised at present, and in need of support, encouragement and a level of patience, to find their way back to a happier, healthier self. One where they can also return to being a productive, valuable employee, making a measurable impact to the business.

And of course, such pushback to judgement goes beyond the world of business; relationships, family, friends, there are many apples in the cart.

Question, seek new views of situations, and remain curious and open-minded as you decide on what you consider to be good, bad and bruised.