One of the biggest battles any teacher or school leader must face is how to serve people without judging them.
You see a student refusing to do his work in spite of all of your best efforts to help him and almost without thinking, you label him lazy.
You see a teacher openly reading Facebook during a professional learning activity that you KNOW he needs and it’s too easy to label him lazy.
It’s so hard not to judge.
But here’s what I’ve learned. You cannot influence anyone as long as you are judging them.
There are several reasons why.
First, judging someone means that you’ve come to a forgone conclusion about their behavior and their motives. The problem is, often our forgone conclusions are wrong, or at the very least incomplete. Thus, if you judge someone and act on your judgment, you are operating from flawed information which severely limits your ability to effectively help them.
Second, people pick up on your judgment. They can sense when they are being judged. And if they feel that you are judging them, they will not trust you.
Third, once you judge someone, you filter everything they do through the sieve of your judgment. That means that you will miss important clues as to how to best serve them.
The moment you judge someone, you lose your ability to help them.
So what do you do when you find yourself judging someone? (Notice I said “when” not “if.” We are all susceptible to judgment so don’t judge yourself when you judge others. Just recognize when you are in judgment and quickly shift).
When you find yourself judging someone, get curious.
You see judgment and curiosity cannot occupy the same space. That’s because judgment means that you have already decided why a person is doing something while curiosity means that you haven’t decided yet.
When you get curious, you ask yourself, “I wonder why he is behaving that way?” and then you consider a variety of options,. As long as you are curious, you are open to more information. And as long as you are open, you are more likely to figure out how to help someone.
Judgment shuts down creativity; curiosity sparks it.
Judgment destroys trust; curiosity cultivates it.
Judgment squelches problem solving; curiosity turbo-charges it.
Judgment breaks communication; curiosity expands it.
Judgment limits your influence; curiosity enlarges it.
So the next time you find yourself judging another person, get curious instead. Not only will it help you better serve your students or teachers, it will better serve you.