Yesterday, Glenn McMahan made a great comment about humbling yourself when engaging in meaningful conversations to get the most out of them. I liked his comment for 2 reasons. One it was a solid point. Two, it segues perfectly into what I want to talk about today which is listening without judgment. I know this really hard for a lot of us to do as whether we like it or not, we are always judging those around us in some way shape or form. This is especially true with regards to our conversations.
With regards to listening, this incorporates not only what you are hearing from someone in the moment but also any preconceived notions that you already have about this person. These preconceived notions can stem from previous conversations or actions and appearances. A good example of this is someone who is consistently unreliable coming to you with what could be a legitimate reason for being late. Even though the reason may be legitimate, to you it's just another excuse from a flaky person.
In certain situations, I think it's OK to filter some of what we hear based on past experience. However in the context of relationships and conversations in your career or business, we sometimes let our filter keep us from having authentic and productive conversations with people we are meeting for the first time.
One reason we do this is based off of someone's outside appearance. You may be engaged in a conversation with someone that may be dressed “odd” from your viewpoint and it totally kills your ability to have a conversation with them that has any depth. We think that if they dress differently, there must be something wrong with them and therefore look for opportunities to not have a conversation with them because of our own superiority complex.
Another way that we hinder conversation and connections before we get to know someone is when we hear something about that person we are meeting that is negative. We often allow someone else to influence our opinion about someone before we have even given the realtionship a chance.
In these situations, we judge people and conversations when we feel that they will not have anything important or meaningful to say. We refuse to let go if our preconceived notions and allow us to have a conversation in the moment. How often do limit our relationship capital by allowing filters to dictate what we get from a person? Usually that filter consists heavily of our own egos. Has this ever been an issue in the past? What instances have you judged someone before getting to know them only to realize that they had a lot to offer you personally?