I’ll admit I’m not the best at nonjudgmental conversations.
But over the last few years I’ve been working on it and I have seen results.
A few years back I realized that I wasn’t the best conversationalist. I still notice it sometimes.
One thing I pinpointed was that I would hear what the other person was saying and I would judge it. I would do it without even really thinking about it.
It seems that maybe humans are wired to pass instant judgement on the world around us. Maybe it’s a survival technique. We judge a situation to see if there is danger or not.
I don’t know for sure.
But it definitely seems that people in general don’t like to be judged. In conversations we just want to be heard, understood and cared for. And maybe sometimes reaffirmed; we want someone to confirm what we’re thinking and saying.
After realizing this I started trying to observe or catch myself when I was judgmental.
The whole mindfulness thing would say that it’s okay to judge. The key is to notice it when it happens, let it pass and go back to listening and engaging with the other person.
That seems to work pretty well. It allows for a little gap between what you feel and what you say or how you react. You think before you speak.
That’s obviously important in conversation. You might think the other person is wrong, but it doesn’t mean you should come right out and say it.
Maybe you need to gain more insight. Maybe you need to learn more about it from their side of things.
Why Nonjudgmental Conversion Is Best
We’re beginning to learn more about the negatives of judging people.
Both on those being judged and those doing the judging.
For early humans, quick judgment made sense. They had a lot of things to fear. Lions, tigers, bears, oh my!
If something had even a slight chance of being dangerous it was best to avoid it.
Now we know that our snap judgments are often incorrect.
And that makes sense. We’re still wired in a way to avoid danger.
But there really are few dangers in our world today. There is much to gain from getting to know people.
Let’s take a simple example.
A person that is obese walks into a doctor’s office. The doctor judges the person perhaps as someone that is unwilling to improve their health.
This often leads the doctor to avoid treatment that might help like understanding why the person is obese and how that knowledge could lead to change.
This leaves the patient down a continued road of obesity. And the doctor also suffers because they lose out on potentially changing a person’s life in a great way; someone that needed help the most.
Nonjudgmental Conversation Tips
I actually think this article has some great tips for better communication.
I’ll expand quickly on a few of my favorites…
Slow Down: So often it’s easy to feel that we need to be quick with responses. Or we feel time crunched; like we need to get the conversation over with.
When Arnold Palmer passed away one of the things people said fondly about him was that he always seemed to have time. He had time for fans, for other golfers, for everyone.
Obviously he was probably very busy. But he slowed things down in conversation.
Maybe he realized it and maybe he didn’t, but that approach probably allowed him to avoid judging the other person in many ways.
Listen With Your Heart: So often we want to be practical. We want to see right and wrong. We believe that we’re right and the other person is wrong unless they see the world exactly as we do.
But what is really the point of conversation and life?
There is so much to gain from good conversation and good relationships.
In nonjudgmental conversation it’s important to have empathy for how the other person is feeling. See the world from their perspective.
Learn why they feel this way. Learn why they are passionate about this topic.
Curiosity & Acceptance: Finally, for good conversation you need a level of curiosity. A reason to ask more questions and to engage the other person. It’s not always easy. But instead of passing judgment for something you disagree with, try to dig deeper to learn why the other person has this feeling or belief.
It doesn’t mean you have to believe the same thing. But you can dig further into why some people feel this way. You don’t even need to change their thinking. Think of it as a way to enlightening your own views on life.
And that’s part of acceptance…seeing that your view is not the only view. There is a peace that comes with this.
A lot of good can come from nonjudgmental conversation.
I don’t claim to be a great conversationalist or listening. I’m still working on it, but I have noticed results from trying to be less judgmental. Hopefully the tips above can help you too.