Monday, January 11, 2010

Are You a Judger or a Learner?

How often do you have difficulties with other people in your life? As a life coach, I see this issue come up all the time for clients. Whether it's a problem with a family member, friend or business colleague, relationship problems are just like death and taxes -- inevitable.

When conflict happens, most of us look at the other person and quickly sum up the situation in one thought: "What a jerk." Usually we see the problem as the other person's fault because we are so confident in the rightness of our feelings and perspective. Well I'm here to tell you, the responsibility is all yours. If you want to relate well with others, then take a step up on the emotional maturity ladder and begin to see conflict in a different light. Are you a judger or a learner? Look at these behaviors and see where you find yourself:

Judging Behaviors
o Reacts to thoughts,feelings and situations
o Automatic responses and actions
o Knows-it-already mindset
o Judgmental, biased evaluator (standard is your own belief or opinion)
o Win-lose relating
o Rigid, inflexible
o Thinks in terms of either/or, right vs. wrong, good vs. bad
o Looks from multiple perspectives
o Often only problem focused
o Oriented toward rejection, defense, and/or attack
o Rarely takes responsibility for own thoughts, feelings and actions
o Assumes resources are scarce
o Assumes possibilities are limited
o Change considered dangerous and is resisted (even when wanting it)
o Unaccepting and intolerant of self and others
o Operates in "attack or defend" mode

Learning Behaviors
o Responds to thoughts, feelings, situations, and other people
o Thoughtful
o Beginner's mindset
o Unbiased observer, researcher and reporter (standard is truth, usefulness)
o Win-win relating
o Flexible
o Thinks in terms of both/and
o Looks only from own point of view
o Solution-focused
o Oriented toward acceptance, negotiation, teaming, and growth
o Takes responsibility for own thoughts, feelings and actions
o Assumes resources are sufficient
o Assumes possibilities are unlimited
o Accepts change as constant, embraces it, and focuses on managing it
o Accepting and tolerant of self and others (including Judger aspects of both)
o Operates in open, resolution and innovation seeking mode

If you want to improve your relationship with others, begin by taking a good, hard look at yourself. You can't change that other person or their behaviors, but you can change your own. Begin by putting yourself in a learning mode. Be open to new ways of relating and resolving conflict. Your new behavior might just be the model for turning a judger in your life into more of a learner.

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