Sunday, 23 March 2014

Sunday Evenin' Sermon: Shift Judgment to Curiosity

Google the phrase in this post title and the hits will take you to life coaching websites, spiritual websites, conflict mediation websites ... even an article from Forbes Magazine, which promises that shifting judgment  to curiosity will make you not only happier but more prosperous as well.

I first encountered this bit of life advice many years ago, when I was teaching elementary school. It was hanging over the principal's desk. I was in there with a couple of colleagues for a meeting (not my favourite activity), and the single commandment struck me. Being opinionated and oft judgmental myself (not my best quality), I haven't managed to put it into effect with any great consistency ... but the idea has remained with me over the years as a worthwhile and important one.

[Spot the dog.]

One of the things I've discovered is that being sincerely and non-judgmentally curious isn't easy. Questions such as "Why does Darth let his dog act like a maniac at the dog park?" or "Hey, Mabel, how can you stand being hooked up to all those diabetes devices all the time?" aren't really expressions of curiosity at all; they're just thinly-disguised judgments.

And then there's the "I just can't understand how so-and-so could possibly ... blah blah blah" type of comment, which reveals (in my judgmental opinion) that the speaker hasn't really tried to understand at all.

Art, Science, or both?

But managing to shift from judgment to genuine curiosity is a great thing. The principle doesn't require an abandoning of our own views, nor does it ask us to accept everything that other people do or believe. I think it does, however, discourage spontaneous criticisms, as well as those that are made without a decent understanding of the complexities of a particular situation. Questioning before judging gives some thinking space.

I wonder how Darth feels about his dog pinning other dogs down at the park? 

I wonder if he's tried some techniques that haven't worked?

"Hey, Mabel, what was it like switching from shots to a pump?"

"What are the best things about your CGM?"

And finally: It seems like my neighbour really wanted to pet my dog. I wonder what good things she was hoping to get from the interaction? And when I tried to talk to her ... how could that have come across? Threatening? Embarrassing? Food for thought ...

Where the Streets Have No Name

And so ends this evening's sermon. Be curious and have a great week!


  1. I also would like to shift away from judgement, but it's a tricky thing. Working on it!

    1. Me, too!

      Thanks for visiting, and for the link to your blog. Lots of great stuff on there. Yurts! :)

  2. Another wonderful post with great photos.


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