Friday, September 5, 2014

What makes someone good or bad

It's a very common conversation we do and hear all around us. 

"He/She is bad or he/she is good."

When we judge a person, most of us have a tendency to categorize people in two buckets. Either they are good or they are bad. It's quite possible that good people may become bad with time and bad may become good, but at a given moment we categorize them in black and white. Why we have a tendency to do that? Can people be categorized into good and bad? Can we put everyone in the world in two categories, either good or bad? How do we define if someone is good or bad? Are we eligible enough to make those judgements?

Whenever we want to pass a judgement about someone, we conveniently put across the absolute truth. 

"He is bad or he is good."

Let's reverse the question. What do you think about yourself? I am sure all of us think that we are good. We may also identify that we have some bad things but we had reasons to justify those bad things. The bad things are easily attributed to either the circumstances that we are into or some bad habit acquired because of someone else. 

So essentially we judge everyone with respect to ourself. We pronounce judgements as those are universal judgements but really speaking those are judgements which are reached with respect to our situation and context.

Now let's look into whether is it so simple to categorize people in good or bad. In other words, can people be categorized into good and bad category.

Everyone in this world is equally good and equally bad. It's the context and circumstances that brings our their goodness or badness. Take any person in the world. He or she might be a good person for many people and bad person for many others. He might be a good father/mother, a great spouse but he might be a bad for many others. For example in the organization where he works, he might be a taskmaster. So he will be termed as bad by his subordinates but he might be a very good guy for the management as he gets things done. If the person is of opposite nature and is easy going, the subordinates may like him very much but the management would terms him a bad choice.

Also the perception of good and bad changes with time also. The teachers who were disciplinarian, we used to hate them, when we were kids, but as we grow and understand the need of discipline, we start loving them. The teachers who let us do whatever we wanted to do, were once god but now we may hate them as because of that we did not study.

The terrorists for one set of people become the martyrs for other set of people.

So is there a way to resolve the dilemma of goodness and badness. Is there a better classification of things. I think it's important to judge people based on their behavior rather than judging them as a whole. Again the behavior might be bad because of you and that person being put in certain context. It's quite possible that in a different context you may turn out to be best buddies. It's still fair to classify people as we need judgements to take our action but classify their behavior. Some of their behavior will be termed as bad "as per your context" and other might be good.

Organizations spend billions of dollars in team building exercises because that helps in putting people in different context and see them through a different glass. In team building exercises, usually people have to collaborate with each other. The same set of people may be in a situation of competition with each other in the office. The context changes and more often the relationship changes, unless one of their is carrying a deep grudge which is difficult to remove on one change of context.

This does not mean that people don't do good or bad things. People do bad things to others and often they do thinking that they are doing good to others. We do things which turns out to be bad to others. For example if you top the class you might be a bad guy to the person at second position. But this is not a bad thing as you have raised your game. However if you come first by unfair means than that is really a bad thing.

Behavior driven classification and evaluating that based on your context is the right approach to judge people. It's also not about judging people but about judging their behavior in that particular context. There are things people do in moments of weaknesses and passion, which are at times very bad. You might want to look into Personality Mapping also to see how personalities are structured, which builds the reaction mechanism.

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