Judging and False Perceptions

Let’s Suspend Our Judging

You might know I am revving up my skills by getting supervision and change management training to compliment my coaching training, and that I recently gave a big test.  So, one of my thoughts for the exam was “suspend judgment” – easy to say and hard to do.

What I mean by that is, that when listening to someone, I try and really listen and take note of what and how they say what they say— including the big picture, the context.  This means I try and suspend my judgments like, “oh, here he goes again, always complaining…” or “I bet she is not telling the whole story…” and so on.

For the exam this was key as the examiner.  Some of the issues regarding making poor judgment have to do with false perceptions and here are a few:

·     The Halo Effect:  Our innate stereotyping (positive and negative) gets in the way of making correct judgments.

·     The Pygmalion Effect: When we have high expectations of someone’s performance, they perform well (the opposite is also true and it is called the Golem effect).

·     Primacy Effect:  Our impressions are more effected by a (good or bad) beginning and/or end than a middle that is “different,” although it may be longer and should have more “weight”.

·     The Adaptation (Contrast) Effect: When we compare people in a group, we often lose sight of more neutral standards.

·     Attribution:  We underestimate external and overestimate internal (personal) factors, often leading to blaming.

Suspend, especially for the sake of Relationship

Suspension of judgment can also allow me to build rapport and trust with my partner in communication, whether that’s a client, a colleague, a business partner, a friend or a family member.  This rapport is key and helps build trust, which is one of the two basic needs we have in all our relationships:  trust and a certain level of belonging.  

But what if Trust is Broken through Lying or Betrayal?

But what if this trust relationship is broken?  If you have a long-term relationship with the person or you are invested emotionally and otherwise, maybe you should invest in checking out the reasons behind and thinking about a way forward.  According to Dr. Henry Cloud you can do these things:

1. Confront it.

2. Hear the response and see how much ownership and remorse there is for the lying or betrayal.

3. Try to figure out what the lying means in the relationship. If the person is afraid, guilty or fears loss of your friendship, then work on that dynamic and try to determine if that character issue is changing and bringing more safety. But be careful, do not give too much trust again, yet.

4. Look at the level of sorrowabout the issue and how much s/he wants to change. How internally motivated is he or she to get better?

5. Then, after a while, is the change being sustained? Make sure you give it enough time. Hearing “I’m sorry” isn’t good enough, and may mean nothing for the person. They must show they want to change and build trust once again.

6. Finally, look at the kind of lying that took place. Was it to protect him or herself, or just to serve selfish ends? If it is the latter, face reality squarely that your colleague is interested in him/herself more than the truth and face what that means for your working relationship. If it is the former, think long and hard and have a good reason to continue with the friendship.. https://drcloud.com/article/why-people-lie-and-what-you-can-do-about-it

Sometimes you cannot end the relationship (eg. at work), but you may need to protect yourself by documenting emails and activities so that they cannot blame you for their mistakes and issues.  Make sure that all bases are covered.  

Also, when something is wrong, put your action where your complaint is (take responsibility)

I was reminded again recently that complainers are not to be listened to, unless they themselves are doing something to alleviate the problem.  There are a lot of people saying “oh, something should be done about xyz.”  But note the passive aspect- it allows the speaker to remain uninvolved.  In work and in other situations, when you or I complain, we should be ready to be part of the solution.  That is the belonging aspect - it’s not his or her problem, it’s our problem.

Every Day We ALL have a Choice, and we have many choices

We have choices everyday as to how to respond to people and we can choose at any time to be a LEARNER or a JUDGER.  

When we have an experience/circumstance, we always have thoughts and feelings about it – a response.  But we can CHOOSE to SUSPEND JUDGMENT – or to go the judging route in our response and then lose a chance for learning.  These ideas are based on the book, Change your Questions, Change your Lifeby Marilee Adams.

JUDGING- poor questions:

Here are some questions to avoid (because they are judgmental) if you possibly can when talking to some, especially in a conflict situation:

What’s wrong? Whose faultis it (is it mine, yours, or theirs)? What’s wrong with me (or you or them)? How can I prove I’m right(after all, that’s more important than finding out the truth)? How is this (or will this be) a problem? Whyis this person so stupid and frustrating? How can I be in controlof this situation? Why (even) bother?

LEARNING – better questions:

Now I want to give some great questions to help along the way, to learn and find a solution:

·      What happened?

·      What do I (we) want? (What am I thinking and feeling?)

·      What are the facts?

·      What’s useful about this?

·      What can I learn?

·      What assumptions am I (are we) making?

·      What are they thinking, feeling and wanting?

·      What am I (and what are they) responsible for?

·      What’s possible?

·      What’s the big picture?

·      What are my choices?

·      What the best choice right now?

·      What works?

With these kinds of questions your thinking will be solution focused and win-win.  We make thoughtful choices because we have reflected on the whole situation and not reacted in anger or frustration. This is how to keep communication at work (and at home) open and positive.

Have a great week of work with trust and belonging being the power that runs all your relationships.

Patricia Jehle              patricia@jehle-coaching.com