Have you been too quick to judge or too slow to listen lately? Suspend our judgement – easy to say, hard to do perhaps?
Whilst facilitating a recent coaching workshop one of the core topics addressed was suspending our judgement. As we discussed the topic, at first there was some hesitancy about what we meant by it, but eventually settled on the tendency to make judgements about what we are hearing as we hear it.
When we listen, the messages we receive have to compete for attention with the aggregation of all the other information that we have ever received. The accumulation of this information, acquired over our lifetime, makes up our view of the world – in essence our basic belief system.
I love this quote from David O. McKay consider this… “‘Words do not convey meanings; they call them forth. I speak out of the context of my experience, and you listen out of the context of yours, and that is why communication is difficult.”
Active listening means suspending that judgement until you are sure that you have understood exactly what someone is saying, through questioning, probing, checking and summarising – it requires an open mind. As a listener and a leader, we should be open to new ideas, new perspectives, and new possibilities. Even when good listeners have strong views, they should suspend judgement, hold back on any criticisms, and avoid arguing.
Developing the habit of choosing to suspend judgement, even just for a moment, is tough to do. If we want to communicate effectively however and get really good at listening, then it is essential. Stephen Covey said that “the quality of life depends on the gap between stimulus and response”. What we do with that gap is how we improve our experiences, and our lives. Sometimes its really tough – isn’t it? Or is it just me? I know on many occasions I haven’t done too well. But I can improve! Creating this gap in the first place is essential. We can’t choose our response, nor can we improve our response if there is no gap in the first place! I am certain that as we choose to slow down, pause, step back, allowing our minds to unclench and open up to new ideas, we can suspend our judgements. Good luck – give it a go today!