Like many of us, in my work and efforts with Not for Profits, I am witness to the power of human nature and its ability to judge people in the act of doing and being a difference maker. The challenge is in taking the time through meaningful dialogue to understand their pursuit. How familiar does this sound?
Why would they do that? Or should we ask ourselves, What would cause them to think like that?
See and feel the difference? We should. As a coach my role is in having meaningful dialogue to fully understand, without judgment how they have made decisions so I can support and challenge people in achieving their objectives. If I judge them on my personal bias, I am missing the opportunity to see their potential.
Over the years I have I have been fortunate to witness some amazing acts and only after speaking and listening have I gained an understanding of the lesson and respect for what people have done. To illustrate this I want to share a couple of recent examples from this past several months.
You are lined up on the start line of a 160km Gran Fondo Cycling event with about 2000 cyclists. Everyone has their own bike, cycling kit and gear to get to complete the Gran Fondo. As you look around you also notice every shape and size of body type you can imagine. You have no idea why they are there, people watching on the streets have no idea, yet it’s interesting how doubt can creep into a mind on the ability of some cyclists to complete the ride. The biggest question is, Who are we to judge who can ride and who can’t? so this is where the brains wheel s spin…
You notice on a climb that a cyclist is walking their bike. Do you think to yourself…
How are they going to make it?
They didn’t train enough? What are they doing out here anyway?
Ask what is really happening here: Do they need help Is it a mechanical issue Is it Physical such as cramps, hydration, nutrition or ? Better yet!!! That is awesome that they are out here challenging themselves!!
Do they know their current cycling ability and that they are okay with walking knowing the purpose and completion is the most important thing?
Lot’s of questions to ask yet amazing how we go straight to judgment and questions 1 to 3. How many times do we judge before seeking clarification? What would change if you knew more? Imagine for a moment what that would look like. Very cool and powerful to say the least. Really exciting to be honest when we see the possibility in people when they themselves may doubt things for a moment.
I wanted to initiate some discussion as this has also recently happened to me and very much affected me by being judged without ever understanding. I recently completed a project that was 3 yrs in the making. It took some courage yet the impact was very personal. It represents courage, commitment, pain, suffering, love and most important a cause and purpose…and my dad. I had a tattoo to represent my dad’s struggle with Parkinson’s Disease on my calf. When it was seen by some I was judged on the bias toward tatoo’s. I was being judged not by the understanding of what it represented or the story, yet by the individual’s bias toward tatoo’s.
Imagine if rather than being judged the simple question(s) were asked of you such as; Marc, what would make you get a tattoo like that? Or, Tell me more about what you were thinking when you got this so I can understand. Then watch and listen to the story.
You see I cycle for a cause and in 2010 we (12 cyclists) rode and completed the 1,350km ride to raise money and awareness for Parkinson’s and the tattoo is in honor of my dad and now all those living with Parkinson’s.
Now switch gears to our organizations. Think about the impact of judgment in our organizations and in our relationships and the effect it has on productivity and culture.
What do I need to do to understand and be open?
What can I ask that will help me understand the reason for people’s decision making?
How can I be more accepting?
You see, unless the weather is warm, the sun is shining and you are cycling behind my rear wheel, you will not be able to fully understand the meaning of the tattoo unless you ask. It is them that we will begin to develop a relationship of understanding based on your willingness to want to know more and move from judgment to inspiration through understanding.
This week(s) and month I challenge you to track the times you start to judge those around you, catch yourself and shift to being curious and journal the difference. Just be ready to embrace the impact!