Deseret News
Letter to the editor

As humans, we need to judge. Our survival depends on it. Judgment is how we assess danger. It is a tool for survival. Yet, judgment threatens our ability to empower people. Why? Because it prevents us from understanding them.

Think about what happens when somebody comes to you with a problem. Your urge is to solve it. However, most of the time, they are not asking for a solution. They’re asking to be understood so you can help them solve their problem on their own. Yet, your judgments get in the way.

When we listen with judgment, we attack. We put others on the defensive. We shut down their ideas. We hold them back.

We can do this with “nonjudgmental listening.”

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With nonjudgmental listening, we listen to understand instead of listening to fix. We put our own beliefs and values to the side. This is easier said than done. We’re often unaware we’re judging until it’s too late.

Nonjudgmental listening does not mean you will not judge. It means you will listen without allowing yourself to apply your judgments to what you hear. We become aware of our judgments. We gain control. And we get to choose. Do we respond with judgment? Sometimes this is necessary. Or do we listen without it?

When we listen without judgment, we understand. We put others on the offensive. We nurture their ideas. We empower them.

Rick Lindquist

Salt Lake City