The other day four friends were walking in a park enjoying the beautiful weather.
Look at the blue sky with the beautiful clouds. Isn’t it wonderful?
I prefer a clear sky. The clouds are distracting.
I think the clouds look threatening. It looks like it’s going to rain soon.
Anna remained quiet, but thought to herself:
Natalia is such an idealist. Who has time to think about the sky? I need to get back to doing real work.
In this simple example, Natalia’s pleasant observation and rhetorical question were greeted with scrutiny and appraisal. Isn’t that the way it is? Too often we listen to conversations through a filter of measurement, judgment, and evaluation.
Do I agree or disagree? Yes or no? Is it right or wrong? Is it good or bad? Is it better than or worse than?
You have probably been in a meeting where someone was making an observation when another person disagreed before the sentence was completed. That was probably a habitual evaluator. These people stop listening to what is being said and start forming their response before developing a full understanding of the point, making their evaluations, however relevant, much less palatable.
Do we need to be evaluators? What’s the worst that would happen if we suspended our instinct to pass judgment and just listened? Some (or even many) things just are; they don’t need evaluation. We might even learn to appreciate both the blue sky and the clouds in the process.
Pushing Your Thinking