Ever heard a media interview for a news item and felt the person sounded unprofessional? Conversely, have you heard others speak and thought how eloquent and proficient they came over? A main factor in the difference between these is our use of judgement language.
We all make judgements – it’s a natural human trait. And in fact judgements are essential for us to get through our daily lives:
But although judgement is a vital part of everyday living, we need to take care with it, particularly in relationships, in public and media, and especially at times when there may be challenges or potential conflict.
Consider these everyday examples of things we might hear ourselves saying to ourselves or others:
This type of vocabulary can be seen as criticism, interpretation, assumption, labels – and when used publicly or in conversation with others can give the impression of being unprofessional, as well as risking a less than effective outcome, e.g.:
Examples of Judgement Language
“By having a believed judgement about oneself or others, the mind will unconsciously sort information available to it in such a way as to support the believed judgement. In this way the belief filters our perception and becomes a self-reinforcing mechanism – we get what we believe.”
‘Words that work in business’ Ike Lasater
Why do we do it?
It’s basic human nature, often built deep-down out of fear or insecurity, and carried out in an aim to make our point heard in a definitive and effective way. Yet it can, and often does, have the opposite effect.
But it’s not that we should try to do away with our judgements – they are essential in showing us what is happening in our minds, and understanding what is causing us to react. And the best way to deal with them is to transform them into observations.
How to transform our judgements
By changing our judgements into what we have observed or heard, we take away the defensive and limited thinking and we open up lines and possibilities for communication.
Here’s an example of how the same five situations may be alternatively viewed:
Equally, if called upon to comment publicly about a situation or people, make sure to screen your thoughts for judgements and choose to report them as observations and facts instead of opinions. And if you do need to put forward your own opinion, make clear to state that it’s your opinion.
Penelope Newton-Hurley is a Communication Troubleshooter,Consultant, Trainer and Mediator
The Communication Troubleshooter helps drive engagement and performance through Emotional Intelligence and CommPassion© Communication techniques.
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