Kindness

Your Judgment of Others Is NEVER Helpful
Your Judgment of Others Is NEVER Helpful 1080 720 Jason Lauritsen

The new year is here.

As I reflect on 2019, I can see that it was a year of contrasts.

For me, it was a pretty amazing year. My wife and kids are healthy and thriving. Angie and I celebrated our 15-year anniversary. My business is growing. Angie’s campaign for mayor of our community is off to a successful start. Things inside our family bubble lead me to feel grateful, lucky, and blessed.

But 2019 was also a year that brought challenges to those who I love and care about deeply. Divorces (so many divorces), addiction, relapses, deaths of parents and children, serious health issues, layoffs—and the list continues.

My friends and family weathered (and are weathering) some pretty serious storms over the past year.

Through it all, one thing became really clear to me: I tried to empathize with them, but the truth is that I haven’t been in their shoes. I don’t know what a divorce with children involved feels like.  I don’t know what it’s like to experience addiction. I’m fortunate to have never lost a parent or child.

I can’t really understand their journey and what it feels like.

Passing Judgment Is Easy—But It Is Ignorant

At times, the behavior of some of these people didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t understand the choices there were making as they navigated their crises. It was easy to pass judgment on their behavior.

My judgment doesn’t help; it only hurts. And it’s ignorant. I don’t understand what their reality looks like to them. I can’t understand their mindset in a particular moment. Because I haven’t been there.

What I was reminded of this year is that when it comes to our relationships with other human beings, whether they are close relationships or not, there are a few constants.

  1. Everyone is having an experience of life that is different than yours. They may be in trauma. They may be struggling. They may be having a crisis of confidence. They are dealing with things you likely can’t understand if you haven’t experienced them yourself.
  2. Judging others never helps. What you might have done or decided in a similar situation is irrelevant because you cannot understand another person’s reality.
  3. By seeking to understand what others are experiencing, you can grow. When we acknowledge that we can’t fully understand the experience of others, that should lead to curiosity and a desire to learn. In some small way, I’ve learned something about loss and addiction and relationships this year through conversations with my loved ones as I try to understand their experiences. This is an area where there is always room for growth, and I will continue to try to do better.
  4. When in doubt, provide as much love and support as you can. No matter how much I want to solve someone else’s problem or take away their pain, I cannot. And when I try, it often backfires. The best thing I can do for others is to love and support them without judgment, knowing that they may be struggling against something that feels insurmountable. Being there to say, “You’ve got this,” and showing up even when they don’t is what matters.

These are some powerful life lessons for me. While I wish I could have been reminded of these lessons in a way that caused less turmoil for the people in my life, I am grateful for the opportunities to learn.

Work Relationships Matter Too

If we want to have better relationships in 2020, these lessons are a great way to make that happen. And this isn’t just for life outside of work. When we remember that work is a relationship for each employee, these four things take on specific meaning for leaders and managers (and coworkers).

Assumptions and judgment are two of the biggest obstacles to forming great relationships. As a manager, there is so much you don’t know and can’t understand about the people entrusted to your leadership. Instead of making assumptions about people and assuming we have them figured out, adopt a mindset of curiosity, seeking to gain a deeper understanding of your people. You will learn and grow as you become a better manager.

And #4 above is just as true for managers as it is for friends, spouses, or family members; when in doubt, offer love and support. Your people already have plenty of judgment to deal with everywhere else in their lives.

There are fewer more powerful words than this:

“You’ve got this. And I’m here to help.”

 

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Words of Gratitude (#6) for Jeff Havens
Words of Gratitude (#6) for Jeff Havens 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

Note: I’m writing a note of gratitude on the blog each day in November leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. My hope is that these posts will inspire you to do the same. Write an email, Facebook post, or a text to tell people they have made an impact on you. Gratitude is contagious. 


As I reflect on my life, I can point to a handful of specific conversations that changed things for me. One of those happened a little over two years ago with Jeff Havens.

Jeff is a fellow keynote speaker who is very successful. If you don’t know about Jeff, visit his site. He’s funny and smart and has a style that’s unique and memorable. He’s also a really good writer. Sign up for his newsletter and you’ll see what I mean.

I’d seen Jeff out on the speaking circuit years before we met. And if I’m honest, I wanted not to like him. His presentation style is quite different than mine and he’s really good at making people laugh. I think I was probably jealous of him and my insecurity at the time told me I shouldn’t like him.

But as fate would have it, we ended up being represented by the same agent, the amazing Donna Buttice. She introduced us and suggested that we talk.

As it turns out, Jeff is a genuinely nice and gracious guy. It was impossible for me not to like him.

In our first conversation, we spent some time comparing notes and talking about our journeys as speakers. When Jeff described to me how he had scaled and managed his speaking business, it sounded a lot like what I aspired to build.

The challenge I’d been facing is that I hadn’t really understood how the business worked and was missing a business model that would make it work. Jeff seemed to have the answer.

Lucky for me, Jeff operates from an abundance mindset. Despite the fact that we sometimes might compete for the same job, Jeff shared some amazing and poignant advice with me.

That conversation set me down the path I am now traveling. His advice gave me the nudge and the confidence to go all in on being a speaker and author. What an amazing gift that I will probably never be able to adequately repay.

Since that conversation, we’ve collaborated on a few things and have done some mutual promotion. It’s been a lesson in abundance and playing what Simon Sinek has labeled the “infinite game.”

Jeff, thank you for your generosity and wisdom. You have had a profound impact on my career and life. I look forward to repaying the favor as we navigate this crazy business in the future.