Learn with Aileron: To get closer to the truth, suspend judgment

Research has confirmed that judgment is a natural human instinct; our brains are hardwired to make quick and sweeping assumptions about circumstances and people long before we have all the data we need to actually understand the truth of the matter.

This natural tendency is well-meaning; judgment is a time-saving mechanism our brains use so we don’t have to critically think about every interaction we have. But while well-intentioned, this tendency isn’t always helpful.

Judgment takes us further away from the truth — the facts and data — and further into what’s personally true for us: a highly filtered version of reality that’s clouded with our own experiences, past, values, and feelings.

And this is unfortunate for both the person making the judgment and the person being judged: Judging others often leads to feelings of anger, frustration, or disappointment, and it inherently ignores the real, lived experience of the person being judged. It’s a lose-lose scenario.

For conscious leaders who want to lead more intentional, productive relationships, there’s a better choice.

Conscious leaders are aware of their mind’s natural tendency to judge, and when they feel themselves slipping into a place of judgment, they leverage a technique called “suspending judgment.” Here’s how it works.

Suspending judgment asks leaders to pause during the process of forming a conclusion to step back from the situation and acknowledge the places where they’re creating assumptions without having all the data.

On their own, they might do individual processing to move from judgment to curiosity by asking themselves questions, like:

  • What assumptions am I making?
  • How valid are my assumptions?
  • What am I missing or avoiding?
  • What are the facts?
  • How else could I think about this?
  • What is the other person thinking, feeling, and wanting?
  • How is my model on the world influencing my perspective?

Leaders who suspend judgment also get curious by asking for more information from the person or about the situation they’re judging; this helps create a more fully formed story rather than one that relies on assumptions to fill in the gaps.

Suspending judgment is just one of the many conscious leadership techniques you can explore in Leadership Coaching, a structured yet personalized 6-month journey where you can grow into the next-best version of yourself with the support and guidance of a certified Aileron Leadership Coach.