Judgement and curiosity

Judgement of situations is essential all day every day in order to make fast decisions. However, when we apply that same judgement to other people and their behaviour, we break down relationships and create a culture of fear. We need to replace judgement with curiosity.

From an early age we learn to judge everything as good or bad and act accordingly. Judgement helps us make decisions. We judge the gap in the road before crossing the street or pulling out in a car. We make judgements on financial data and information to decide what actions we take and how we prioritise. These are all judgements that enhance our decision-making and help us move business forward quickly.

Default patterns of behaviour

But it’s when we apply judgement to people and their behaviour that relationships start to break down. As children we are taught right and wrong. We are expected to confirm to a set of rules defined by adults – parents, teachers and other people in positions of power. As a result, we are trained in our thinking to judge everything as black or white, good or bad. This right/wrong approach creates further divide when we experience differences in others.

As adults, we have already developed our default patterns of behaviour so judgement becomes a natural default whenever we see something we don’t like or that is different from our way. In realitiy, the world of business is rarely black and white and we need to develop new skills. We need to train ourselves to be more curious and question things to understand them.

Blame and judgement

Most teams I work with judge each other. They may not even realise they do it until they see how it plays out with the horses. As soon as you judge a horse as stupid or stubborn, their behaviour seems to become even more so. It becomes clear when a horse refuses to co-operate. they simply refuse to move.

I invite people to switch from judging the horse to being curious about what the horse is wanting from them as a leader in order to co-operate. The emphasis shifts from “You’re at fault” to “What can I do to make it easier for us to move forward together?” Letting go of the judgement is the first step.

Modifying behaviour

I often say: ‘Nobody comes to work wanting to do a bad job, even those who appear that way.” I genuinely believe this is true. Our task as a leader is to continually modify our behaviour to explore how we can work in harmony with others and bring them with us.

Replacing judgement with curiosity can open up dialogue and deepen relationships. Curiosity enables you to explore the values, beliefs and needs behind people’s behaviour, leading to greater understanding. Once you understand where people get stuck and why, you can find ways to support eaach other better.

Teams who switch from a culture of fear and judgement to one of collaboration and support are more aligned and move forward faster. The honesty and transparency that comes from operating in such a team is refreshing and rewarding. Let go of the judgement and start working in harmony.


If you would like to work in a more aligned team,

contact me on 07584 248822 to discuss how I can help

Or join me at the Leading through uncertainty book launch

on 24th May 2018 in Warwickshire