As hard as we try to be objective, none of us can stop the instant spark of opinion that enters our head when we meet a new person or encounter a new situation.
But there are ways that you can learn to be less judegmental and be mindful of the signals that you might be giving off.
For example, if you are out in the community and you enter somebody’s house, it may not be up to your standard of cleanliness, or there may be a particular smell. But you can’t react, or show any reactions you might have on your face.
I find it helps to remind myself not to make judgements on first impressions, it’s hard but it helps to remind myself.
I knew of a nurse who was so repulsed by false teeth that she grimaced and turned her head every time the patient removed them to place them in the overnight pot. This couldn’t have made her patient feel at ease, or even human.
Another example might be when you arrive on a ward for the first time.
I would love to be able to say that we all live in a society that doesn’t judge people merely on their appearance but we have to be realistic.
We make judgements about everyone that we meet, and they probably make judgements about us. The way that you visually present yourself instantly creates an opinion of you in other’s minds. This may be an accurate opinion or it may not be but irrespective of that it can be incredibly hard to shake that image once it has become ingrained in people.
We can’t do anything about those snap judgements that we make when we see people or situations. Nor can we help the fact that others will be making similar judgements about us depending on our demeanour or appearance.
But we can be aware that it does happen - and give people the benefit of the doubt before writing them off all together. We can also control the way that we express ourselves and the way in which we act upon our internal monologue.
Do you struggle with your own prejudices? Has working as a student nurse made you aware of prejudices that you never knew you had? How do you deal with them?
Adam Roxby is Student Editor of Student Nursing Times. Follow him on Twitter @AdamRoxby