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Every human is born with a natural instinct to judge. No matter the situation we are faced with or the individual we are engaging, there is a continuous prompting in the mind to analyze information and eventually draw conclusions based on how we perceive an on‐going process. Be it at the work place, with a spouse or with friends, we continue to form opinions about those we are dealing with. While it may be absolutely impossible for any human to undo this process, it is equally practicable to manage this process well enough to avoid sounding condemning, condescending or just simply judgmental.
Perhaps, an understanding of the correct meaning of the word “judgmental” could help provide a food for thought. The Collins dictionary defines judgmental as being critical of others or situations by forming opinions about them very quickly when it would have been better if more information about the individual or situation was acquired and taken into consideration. From the above definition, it is deducible that forming opinions about others or situation is not in the least way, an unwholesome act. However, the problem might actually stem from the pace and pattern at which this opinion is being formed. This is what not being judgmental caters for. To be non‐judgmental does not suppose that conclusions are not eventually drawn, rather, these conclusions are derived from a careful examination of the item on ground so that objectivity, not emotionality becomes the driving force.
In being judgmental, there is an emotional charge which is often misleading. Emotions by themselves are flawed abstract. Sentiments are bound to interfere as far as one is acting by emotions. Emotions are rooted in one’s experiences, thoughts, personal ideas and spirituality. To this end, being judgmental tilts more towards the negative pole than the positive one. Even the Holy Bible is not silent on this subject as it frequently condemns the act of passing judgment on others, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” John 7:24.
Since we have been able to ascertain the fact that being judgmental does probably only harm rather than good, it therefore means that its direct opposite which is non‐judgmental must have a reputation for evolving much better results whether in the interim or in the long run. One of these results is that it has a rich tendency to tackle emotional disasters like depression and frustration thereby enabling one become a much lively and stress free individual. There is a huge amount of emotional draining when one embarks on judgmentalism. Dr. Debasish Mridha says: “when you are non‐judgmental, you are happy. Happiness depends on you, on your thoughts, on your attitudes, on your ideas and vision, and nothing else.”
Adopting the non‐judgmental approach relaxes one’s inner man and rather than put one in bondage, actually releases one to an unexplainable freedom enriching the quality of life one lives and transferring same to the people surrounding them.
To add to this, by being non‐judgmental, people are more likely to enjoy one’s company than when the reverse were the case. The average human being yearns for acceptance. Majority hate being criticized even when it is obvious that they have erred. So, adopting the non‐judgmental style endears one to people easily. People seek attention, not condemnation and would readily relish associating with people who are less likely to embark on a fault‐finding mission each time they engage them in a discussion. They are less self‐conscious and become much freer with one and repose great confidence, revealing their deepest desires and thoughts. This enables the person to have numerous cordial relationships and inevitably, opens up a well of ideas and opportunities to them.
Moreover, not being judgmental saves one risk of equally being judged. When people are judgmental, the tendency is that they will equally be judged. Since being judgmental is often times flawed because of insubstantial information on what or who is being judged, the victim may go defensive and in extreme cases, even switch to the offensive, thereby destroying the morale of both parties involved. This is why it is advisable to be non‐judgmental because it saves one from being an object of ridicule due to wrongful and possibly sentimental conclusions.
In addition, being non‐judgmental is able to increase individuals’ exposure to numerous possibilities that might have been previously hidden if they had remained judgmental. In being judgmental, one is unconsciously transmitting the venom of limitation. What is quite unclear to the one judging is that it frames a web around himself that inhibits him from foreseeing the vast possibilities that could have opened up to both him and the one being judged only if he had been less judgmental. Ellen J. Barrier said: “Before you condemn someone else for a wrongful act, check your behavior and see if you too, have committed an act similar or even worse than the act that person has done. Then you won’t be in a position to judge.”
Power lies in everyone. This power can be suppressed, aroused or promoted depending on the resources available to the individual. One of these resources is being able to be listened to without the fear of being judged. Therefore, non‐judgmental behavior maximizes the experiences and opportunities for both parties engaging in a conversation.
Nevertheless, not being judgmental requires less physical and mental energy to deploy. A lot of strength is channeled into making judgments about someone. The brain would need more current discharge in a bid to analyze, interpret and draw conclusions. This can be really tiring especially as there may be numerous items to be dissected on the situation or individual. It is not only that a lot of time is being used up, but also that there is a lot of strain on the muscles and mind.
It is for this reason wise to stay non‐judgmental so as to save oneself from physical stress and time wasting on supposedly irrelevant matters.
Finally, not being judgmental erases the notion of superiority. It stops stigmatization and recognizes the idea that everyone has his own challenges and is struggling. So, it is really going to be unfair to begin to attach a label or stereotype to anyone since no one is immune from one form of flaw or the other. It reinforces the doctrine of trust and freedom as well as considers the fact that people have their differences and these differences must be respected. By this, being non‐judgmental creates a world, embellished in harmony and mutual respect for one another.
Coaching is a calling to serve. It is a profession that upholds a commitment, not only at guiding a client towards achieving their goals, but also at ensuring unquestionable respect for the client’s privacy, intellect, emotions, as well as freedom. In coaching, there are no disciples and masters or leaders and followers. Most clients, having done substantial research, already have an idea of the dos and don’ts of coaching before going to hire a coach. When a coach chooses to adopt the judgmental approach during sessions, the client might doubt the competence and professionalism of that coach. This could lead to an early severance of the relationship which of course, would destroy the initial aim of the coaching which was to provide solution to a pressing challenge. Calvin Coolidge said: “If we judge ourselves by our aspirations and everyone else only by their conduct, we shall soon reach a very false conclusion.
In some other instances, less decisive clients who may not want to terminate the relationship, may just want to hang in there for a while. One thing still stands clearly though, which is that no client will fancy the fact that he is being judged. What may likely happen here is that rather than bringing the relationship to a halt, a client may just play along with the coach but become reticent with his words, only revealing the things he is certain will not place him at the risk of being judged. This will undoubtedly hamper the effectiveness of the coaching and in the long run lead to frustration and a lack of fulfillment in the life of both the coach and the client.
In continuation, clients who feel they have been judged, especially wrongfully, may decide to take the defensive route. By this, they make excuses for their actions and try not just to prove their actions right, but equally to justify that the decisions they had taken in time past were not irrational. When a client becomes defensive, the coaching relationship becomes stagnant and no headway can be made because the client may perceive the sessions as a forum to justify his actions and avoid being humiliated.
Another likely consequence of being judgmental is that some clients may truly see this as the ultimate, standard pattern of dealing with issue that they have. The danger here is that this notion may propel them to begin to adopt this style in their dealings with other people. Take for instance a client whose wife is continuously accusing him of judging her. Is it not obvious that the client now has a justification for his action since someone who is supposed to be a professional indulges in the same act? This, of a certainty, will still not put an end to the problem he is having at home and will equally affect his respect for his coach in the long run.
Coaching sessions require constant feedback from the clients. Exercises are usually given to the client at the end of the sessions and appropriate feedback is required so that the coach can monitor the progress being made for them to be able to move on the next stage. However, when a client senses that he is being judged, the tendency is that he might become selective and twisty with the contents of his feedback to the coach. By this, the coach begins to work with falsehood and insufficient information and that will ultimately affect any potential success for both parties.
In coaching, the fundamental skill is the ability of the coach to listen at a much deeper level to detect hidden thoughts and feelings that the client is trying to convey. By being judgmental, the coach stops listening at an advanced level, but focusses on the level 1 listening which is selfish in itself. He then is only able to hear his own voice and thoughts, leaving the client at the mercy of his own convictions and perceptions. This will only ensure that the coach, not the client takes charge of the outcome of the sessions which is in contrast with the requirements of a coaching relationship where the client discovers for himself, the way out of a challenge he is facing.
Clients who are hyper sensitive may become traumatized when they are being handled by a judgmental coach. Being judgmental, as we have emphasized, sees all the negatives and possibly, exaggerates them to the extreme detriment of the victim. For people with high degree of sensitivity, chances are that their minds, instead of focusing on the agenda at hand, may ruminate on the comments and conclusions that were made by the coach. They are unable to concentrate during coaching sessions, as they continuously swallow in their thoughts. By this, the conversation gets stuck and how to solve a new problem becomes an overwhelming reality.
While we cannot completely avoid judging from time to time, there is no denying the fact that being judgmental places a huge limitation on the coaching experience. It impedes the effectiveness of meaningful progress and retards the wells of possibilities that should have emerged if only a fairer, open minded and more holistic approach had been deployed. The most painful thing here is not just that both parties fail to realize their goals, but the fact that the client gets to pay dearly for the misdeeds of the coach who in this case is supposed to be the “sailor that navigates the ship” to safety.
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