The Cure to Judgment | Mindsteps Inc.

The Cure to Judgment

One of the biggest battles any teacher or school leader must face is how to serve people without judging them.

It’s tough.

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.

  • Greg Wolcott says:

    Kudos to you for being vulnerable and sharing your personal challenges and thoughts. Great modeling for all leaders!

  • Tammy says:

    This information was very profound, and yes–I’ve been in the seat of judgment and of being judged. Neither reaps that benefits/outcomes desired. It was refreshing to read this article that sums it all up in a nutshell. Hence, I will be more careful in recognizing the areas of which I may be judging, rather than being open to cultivate.

  • CharlesDrake says:

    I enjoy reading all your posts, but this one is especially good. Great sermon material ? Thx

  • Anne says:

    Wow. This is just what I needed to hear tonight. Thank you.

  • Jan says:

    Thank you for this article. I particularly liked your thoughts on judgement As a teacher, as a work colleague, as a parent I have been guilty or judging others but I was fortunate to have an autistic son who opened my eyes and made me realise that there was always a reason why he behaved the way he did. I think that this curiosity has helped me in my work to observe and find out why people behave the way they do and I am now less judgemental.
    Thanks Jan

    • Robyn Jackson says:

      We all have been guilty of judgment. What a gift your son is to you to have opened your eyes to just how often we judge.

  • Susanne Hannigan says:

    In two words….game changer. This thoughtfully articulate article is spot on…and should be read by all. I have shared this with several coworkers, as well as my principal. As a school, we are reading Creativity, Inc…a wonderful text which looks at this very subject and relates behaviors on a very human level. I would suggest you check this out. In addition, I plan to use an adapted version of this information in my work with my older students (as we analyze the subject of Bully Recognition and Unity (in the month of October). Thank you for this thought provoking reading, one which makes me look inward as a curious teacher and human being.

    • Robyn Jackson says:

      What a coincidence. Someone just gave me a copy of Creativity Inc and I am looking forward to reading it. I am so glad you found this article helpful. This topic has indeed been a real game changer for me.

  • Bridgette Bell says:

    Really good tip. Thank you!

  • Randy says:

    Excellent words and thoughts to live by, greatly increases our ability to be part of the solution.

  • SS says:

    Loved this thank you. If I catch myself judging I will quickly shift to curiosity.

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