Be Judgmental - Really
Make Your Team Smarter!
Have you ever said either of these things about a teammate?:
“I just don’t want to be judgmental.”
“Who am I to tell him I think what he’s doing is ineffective?” Or a waste of time, or ______________ (fill in the blank)
This happens so often! People don’t want to share judgments they have about their teammates and their teammates’ work.
But here’s the reality: You are judgmental. We all are. Because being judgmental serves us. It’s how we make meaning of our world. Your judgment is one of your greatest gifts and it’s likely why you got hired.
Judgments and Opinions Are Not the Problem
Your judgment or opinion is a combination of your imagination, creativity, and ability to discern. It’s reflective of how you put your world together. It’s what makes you unique, valuable, and a smart addition to a team.
So why the hesitation? The problem is our attachment to our judgments, opinions, and ideas. The problem is in believing that we are right. When I think I’m right, I get stuck and fixed there.
Righteous attachment to judgments is the number one creativity and innovation killer on teams.
When teams are healthy and built on trust, judgments and opinions are valued and welcomed. In that environment, you want your teammates to tell you when they think you’re being ineffective, making a mistake, or when your idea, well, sucks.
It’s better that your teammate thinks your idea sucks than your customer, right?
Yes, revealing and hearing judgment creates conflict and can be uncomfortable, painful, and awkward. But not sharing your judgment and opinion will not only dampen your team’s creativity, it will also diminish its effectiveness. The judgment and conflict is still there if you don’t say it, it’s just underground and unused.
Unshared Judgments Fester and Ferment
When you don’t share your judgment with someone directly, it squirts out somewhere else and undermines them. Worse, to defend yourself, you build a case for your own opinion or judgment, so you can feel more justified in having it
.When you bring your judgment out into the light of day, directly to the person it’s about, as just that – your judgment, not reality – you and your team gain the chance to use the energy of the conflict. When you share your judgment, someone else can provide you with a different perspective, new information, or the backstory for their motivation.
Reveal Your Judgments
Imagine sharing your judgment like this: “I don’t think our approach is sound, and don’t have confidence that it will work. I have been hesitant to tell you, but want to know what you think.”
The key is adding curiosity about the other person’s point of view after you own up to yours. This adds the space to develop something new, and opens the door to using the judgment and conflict for creativity and innovation.
The key on a team, or in any relationship is to recognize that your judgment and opinion is valuable and worth sharing. However, it isn’t necessarily right. It’s just one way of putting the pieces together. Sharing your perspective and being curious about whether others agree, disagree, or have some new information is exactly the dynamic that makes teams creative, innovative, and transformative
.Judgments + Curiosity = Creativity + Innovation
The next time you find yourself holding back on sharing a judgment, check yourself! You may discover that the problem isn’t your opinion, but your own investment in your opinion and in the belief that you’re right.
Own your judgments for what they are: your way of piecing the world together. Your judgments are highly valuable and creative – even if they’re not the only way or the “right” way. Share them and get curious about what can come next.
When there’s a free flow of opinions (yes, that means judgments) combined with curiosity (not righteousness or defensiveness), a team uses the energy of conflict to become smarter and much more innovative.
Be judgmental out loud and directly.
Consider the possibility that your are not right.
Then be curious about what the other person thinks.
CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke
Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict
CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.
They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.
Check out their website: www.thriveinc.com. Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.