Be carful judging
Do you think your office colleague likes other colleagues better than you? Does your supervisor always want to annoy you, and therefore he or she places particularly complex tasks on you, so that you have to work longer in the office? And why doesn’t the neighbouring department keep its agreements? That’s definitely intentional.
We humans evaluate everything that happens around us: The colleagues, the superiors, the suppliers and the neighbours. Everything comes in a drawer, gets a stamp and is categorised. But what is reality of it? Is it possible that your boss trusts you especially and knows that you work particularly carefully and precisely? So perhaps it has more to do with trust that he regularly hands over demanding tasks to you? And the other department may have an unforeseen problem to solve and has not yet been able to talk to you about it. Maybe your office colleague only talks to your colleagues more often because they are planning a surprise party together for your 47th birthday. So the question is: How can you manage not to judge everything and everyone permanently?
There is a method that counteracts constant judgement. It consists of four steps and is called non-violent communication. The first step is observation. The pure observation, which is formulated value-free, creates more distance in a concrete situation and to the conversation partner. It is an objectification in the direction of numbers, data, facts.
The pure judgement
Imagine you’re in a situation where something’s bothering you. It is important to first recognise the judgement in your mind. What bothers you?
An example: A customer has placed an order, but is never satisfied with the results. I am constantly making changes and then he thinks of things he hasn’t complained about before. Apparently he always finds something wrong and wants to annoy me with it.
These sentences contain numerous judgments: never, constantly, always, wrong, to annoy.
Now formulate for this disturbance an objective observation that is concrete and contains no generalisations: The customer has placed an order and is not satisfied with the results. It is the second time that I have made changes. After these changes, things come to his mind that he hadn’t complained about before.
The fact that the customer wants to annoy you is an assumption, because you cannot know that, you can only assume it. Maybe it’s true, but it’s unlikely. Most people are very busy with themselves and have little time for such actions.
Is 100% objectivity possible? Of course, none of us is 100% objective, because everyone brings their own experiences and perspectives. Often we are not even aware that we are judging and this is the second step. The step of observation should sensitize us. What really happened and what only happens in our heads? And it still goes on. Our judgments of situations and people do not only remain in our heads, but influence our way of dealing with other people as well as our language. We always communicate non-verbally and verbally. How can you now pay attention to your own language?
I recommend that you practice consciously for one week. Describe situations with other people as precisely as possible and make yourself aware of which evaluations your descriptions contain. For one week each day, plan to use the first step of non-violent communication at least once a day. When choosing words, pay attention to the following:
How often do you say “perfect”, “super”, “good”, “bad”, “wrong” or “right”? Try to be more precise and say what you actually liked or disliked.
Do you tend to exaggerate? Do you generalise and like to say “never”, “always”, “all” or “none”? Can you also be more concrete here and say how often it was, for example, that your colleague put the dishes on and not the dishwasher? Ask yourself what you notice in your judgments. What bothers you? Answering these questions will give you clarity about your triggers. Do other people’s looks bother you, are they too fat, too thin, too modern or too sexy? Do you mind how they talk because they have a dialect or an accent, they repeat themselves and talk too loudly or too quietly? How important is courtesy to you? Do you get upset when other people don’t show enough consideration? Because they don’t hold the door thoughtlessly, don’t knock on your door before they come to your office? Because they think you always have time to do their jobs?
After this week you will have a feel for your judgments and clarity about your trigger points. You know what bothers you and what you are judging. And you are sensitized and can omit ratings more easily in the future.
If you have practiced this for yourself in silence, you can now apply it directly in your conversations. Be sure to formulate in a non-judgmental way, even in situations where you are not satisfied. It makes sense not to seek a conversation until your head is clearer and free of judgements. The conversation will certainly be easier for you. As long as you are still too angry, you may use non-judgmental formulations, but your body language will express something else. Tell your counterpart as concretely as possible what you mean so that he knows what you are talking about.
The self-image of the other
Do you know that you can influence the self-image of your conversation partner with opinions or judgements? If you regularly say to a colleague or employee that he cannot do something, he may end up believing it himself. This has to do with how pronounced his or her self-confidence is. If we listen to certain statements again and again, if we stop questioning them at some point and simply believe them. Role models have a particularly great influence on us. Be it the parents, the teachers, the superiors or the mentors in the company. Words can be very hurtful, so you should always be aware of what you can do with your language. So it makes sense to question your opinion about your counterpart before expressing it.
The judgement of the other
What do you do if the other judges you directly in the conversation? Here, too, I recommend that you first concentrate on the facts. What exactly was said? If he says something like “you are totally unreliable” or “you are always too late”, ask him what he actually means. What period does he refer to? Why does he think you are unreliable? Your interviewee must also become concrete and argue with numbers, data and facts. If this judgement has no basis, this becomes clear very quickly. And if it is a question of individual days or situations, at least it would be clear that it is not a question of a general judgement.
Susanne Lorenz is a communication trainer with a focus on non-violent communication according to Marshall B. Rosenberg. She also works as a goal-finding coach. With the background of her linguistics studies, several years of professional experience as an executive and coaching training, she gives seminars and coaching sessions to advance executives. Information on the seminars and coaching sessions can be found at www.wirksam-kommunizieren.de.