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Shift Judgment to Curiosity

The other day I was at Staples picking up some sweet-ass (that’s the technical term) posters that I had printed and had one person waiting in front of me. She was an older lady and was looking to have some flyers or brochures copied for something she was doing. As she talked to the staff member she was growing more and more upset and then started to complain to the staff member that the prices that they were charging were ridiculously high. The staff member ignored the complaint and tallied up how much the lady would owe should she decide to go ahead with her order. As the staff member became less engaged with the women, the women just got more upset over the prices and how ridiculous they were. As the lady was looking at her papers trying to decide which “poison to drink” the staff member caught my eye and proceeded to roll them at me as if to say, “Can you believe this? Just make up your mind already!”

This is Nothing New

This is nothing new, we see this all the time in customer service, in our workplace, in our churches, in our relationships with friends and families. Often in our interactions with people we forget to listen to people. We decide early on in our conversations that we already know the outcome of this, or we understand what the other person is trying to say, or write off the person in front of us. We make a judgement call/first reaction/first impression (whatever you want to call it), that we’ve already figured out this person and we have decided on a course of action to take (i.e. let’s get this conversation over with). Here’s one thing we often forget though: We can be wrong in our judgments.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be…look back over the past month and I’m sure you can see a few examples of how you shouldn’t have judged a book by the cover (I know I can). So what’s the kryptonite for this judgement? What’s it’s antidote? Curiosity.

Shift Judgement to Curiosity

Sure, curiosity killed the cat but it’s not likely to kill you. Well, especially if your being curious in your listening skills. This is something my friend and colleague Betty Pries from ARC Ministries says in many of her trainings, “Shift judgment to curiosity.” This notion of curiosity is one of THE keys to being a great listener and communicator. It’s something that reminds us that we don’t know everything, it’s a reminder that we’re human. We don’t have all the answers and this judgement that we’re talking about can be our biggest weakness.

What would happen to our relationships if we shifted our ears and minds from judgment to curiosity? How would that change our workplace? What would happen to our church? What new level would that take our relationship?

As the most interesting man in the world might say,

I don’t often get judgmental, but when I do, I get curious


Jason Dykstra

Jason is a Conflict Management Specialist who is helping organizations and congregations move from conflict situations to creative solutions. He specializes in relational and communication issues and uses his experience and training in mediation, group facilitation, conflict management coaching, speaking and teaching to aid you and your surroundings to better… MORE >

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