4 Ways to Move from Judgement to Curiosity
As a mom and advocate for kids with disabilities, I get frustrated with so much focus being on a child’s behaviour. I’ve had teachers and school administrators tell my kid to be quiet when having a meltdown, versus trying to support them. I’ve heard other parents make judgements about a child based on their behaviour instead of being compassionate.
Focusing on a child’s behaviour does nothing to help the situation. Rather, it allows biases, judgement and assumptions to take root and cloud what’s really happening.
Being curious about the behaviour versus judging the behaviour is the best way to support any child. While it seems obvious when dealing with children, this is a lesson we can apply to all areas of our life – at work, home and our personal reflections.
#1 Open mindset
Here’s the thing about curiosity. When you’re curious, you allow your mind to explore all possibilities. You’re open to new ideas, opinions and perspectives.
The simple shift to a curiosity mindset can be a gamechanger.
The first time I was introduced to this concept was during a webinar on supporting kids with behavioural challenges. One of the speakers commented that the focus needs to be on solving the problem, not the behaviour.
Afterall, in the majority of cases, the behaviour is a result of an unmet need or problem that needs solving.
This open mindset is key to our interactions at work. Instead of getting defensive or frustrated with a conversation with a coworker or client, view the situation with curiosity. Why am I getting upset? Is it about what they’re saying or how I’m feeling? What questions do I need to ask to learn more about their perspective?
#2 No assumptions
The other benefit of a curiosity mindset is it releases you from having to know the answer on the spot or make assumptions about what is happening. This doesn’t dismiss your experience or connection to the situation, rather it gives you permission to be open to a variety of possibilities.
I often invite individuals to be curious when discussing a challenge instead of being expected to have the answer right away. By approaching the issue from a place of curiosity, it allows us to explore a variety of reasons or solutions instead of sticking to our usual way of doing things.
#3 Ask questions
Look for ways to dig deeper and learn more by asking questions. I’m curious about why you took this approach. Tell me more about your thoughts on this problem. How can we implement this solution? What do you see as the obstacles?
Instead of looking for an opportunity to give your thoughts or allowing your judgements or assumptions to cloud your perspective, ask questions. Take the time to be curious, being open to a different perspective by asking questions.
We naturally do this on subjects we’re passionate about because we’re motivated to learn more. We’re excited to broaden our horizons or find new ways of doing things. But when we’re under a time crunch, just want to get the job done or don’t have a positive relationship with a coworker, we tend to talk more and listen less.
#4 Powerful tool
A curiosity mindset is a powerful tool in all aspects of our lives. Imagine the difference if we used curiosity in our conversations with our children, spouses, friends, colleagues and family.
I think of all the unnecessary conflict that could have been avoided if I’d been curious about what someone was saying instead of making assumptions about what they meant, getting defensive or discounting their words because I disagreed with their viewpoint.
Having seen the success of a curiosity mindset in supporting my child, I now ask more curiosity led questions in my daily interactions. And guess what? It’s avoided a lot of misunderstandings, hurt feelings and wrong directions.
Why? Because by being curious, I’m able to park my ego and assumptions. I’m open to input from others and exploring a variety of scenarios.
I encourage you to take a curiosity mindset for the next 24-hours in all your interactions. Each time you think you have a solution or are tempted to make a judgement, lean in to your curiosity.
How did leading with curiosity change the interaction? Benefit the relationship? Solve the problem?
Now imagine if what difference it would make if you moved from judgement to curiosity in all your daily interactions. Powerful shifts would begin to happen!