“Replace judgement with curiosity” – Lynn Nottage
Outrage, judgement, aggression, arrogance…seen any of that lately?
Blame, denial, deflection…?
It seems that everywhere we look recently – news, sports, politics, social media, reality TV, business – people are expressing strong opinions about, and onto, others. Sometimes this generates hurt, ridicule, division, anger – and so the cycle repeats and repeats.
Not that there’s anything wrong with having an opinion and speaking up. It’s often ‘how’ we do it that is so destructive – if not for ourselves, often for other people. If we are aggressive, defensive, judgemental or abusive in tone, then our impact could be very negative.
Making judgements before seeking understanding – is this the new normal?
In an attempt to lighten the mood, and use a simple example…take the recent ending to The Bachelor Australia. The outrage over ‘The Bach’ choosing neither woman has been loud. Is no one curious as to the reasons he made this decision? Has no one listened to the way he spoke to the women and his rationale for his choice? From a curious outside perspective, it actually could be seen as a respectful act, presented as kindly as possible in unusual circumstances. Does it really matter that normally someone ‘wins’? What reason does anyone have to be outraged about the ending to a TV show (even a highly addictive one!)? Ah, it seems a strange world.
From reality TV to the business world. In our coaching and training we often hear people deflect, deny, or blame others for dips in performance, lost clients and workplace conflicts. Could time spent focusing defensively outwards be better spent focusing on understanding someone else’s perspective, identifying possible solutions, seeking opportunities, and applying a healthy dose of reality testing? And even better, to own what you own – looking inwards to discover your role in situations and how you might turn things around or influence for a better outcome.
So, do we want to go down the pathway of destructive negativity, or can we turn this around for more positive interactions and discussions?
An idea – let’s get constructively curious before we get combative.
When we start telling ourselves – “how dare they?”, “who do they think they are?”, “are they an idiot?” – perhaps we can stop for 2 seconds and ask instead – “what’s another way of looking at this?” Or “how can I make a positive impact here?” Or “I wonder what has led them to say/do that?”
When our typing fingers get twitchy to scream out in capitals on social media, perhaps we can stop for 2 seconds and ask ourselves – “what are the (real) facts here?”
Craving constructive curiosity in this combative world might just help us slow down, think about how we react, and consider the impact we are having on others. We don’t need to agree with everyone, yet perhaps we could be a little kinder, get on a little better, and recognise that it takes all sorts of characters to make this a pleasant world.
And wouldn’t it make sense to leave ‘The Bach’ and other relatively innocent people in peace and save our outrage for those who truly do major hurt and harm in the world?
And if that seems a little too fluffy for you, please minimise your outrage in the comments.
Long live constructive curiosity!
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