In my blog last week, I discussed listening as a very key component to communication.  I talked about how, in order to become a proficient coach, I had to break a decades-long habit when it came to listening and I had to learn new listening skills. 

Another area where I needed to break a decades-long habit in order to become a proficient coach, was judgement.  I needed to learn to listen to my clients without judgement.  I needed to learn that I can’t tell my clients what to do because I would be imposing myself into the way they live their lives.  One of the differences between coaching and therapy or consulting is that coaches know that our clients have the answers within them and it is our job to ask the right questions to get our clients to resolve their issues.  Due to the nature of coaching, there is no room for judgement. 

Another thing that I needed to let go of as a developing coach was my own judgement of myself.  I had to stop asking myself if I was a good enough coach.  Theoretically, my assessment of my performance as a coach would be me imposing my agenda on the coach/client relationship.  The whole purpose of a coaching relationship is to tackle the client’s agenda.  I, as the coach, have no place in the agenda. If I judged myself during the coaching conversation, I would be breaking coaching presence with my client and thus not be fully present for my client’s agenda during the session. This is why as a developing coach, we received feedback from our classmates and we had mentor and supervisor coaches.

So why do we judge?  Why do we think that we know better than someone how they should live their life?  Breaking my judgement habits while I was a developing coach was no easy fete.  In fact, I am still working very hard on it.  I have no right to judge anyone and they have no right to judge me.  The only caveat is if a person is going to do something life-threatening and intervention is necessary. 

Many religions teach us that we are flawed people and that God is the only one who can judge us.  Our countries have set up justice systems so that judges and juries can determine if crimes were really committed and sentence appropriately.  These systems are designed to take the judgement burden off of the general public.  

Back to my initial question, why do we judge?  I think we judge because we think we know better than the person we are judging.  We want to push our agenda on them.  How do we really know what someone is going through unless we walk in their shoes?  I also think that we get jealous so we judge as a defense mechanism. 

Like Mother Teresa said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” I my opinion, what we need right now is more love.  We need to accept people for who they are.  We need to allow them to make decisions for themselves.  If they come to us for advice, that is wonderful.  Give it to them.  If they don’t take your advice, that’s on them. 

Try not to be judgmental.  There is something really freeing about not passing judgement and allowing people to be who they are.  People are not flawless.  They make mistakes.  They learn lessons, but most importantly, we need to remember that they know what is best for themselves.  Release your burden and allow judging to remain with the court system and God.