Over the past few days and weeks I’ve seen more and more people passing judgement through their comments and conversations about others. Lots of ‘I can’t believe they are doing this…’ and ‘they should be doing more or less of that..’
And I’d invite you today to think about where this judgement is coming from.
When I first started Tribal Leadership, identifying the cultures that occur in companies, one of the first activities that I was invited to do was to go somewhere like a coffee shop or park, sit, observe others and notice what was coming up for me. Where there any themes? Were there any topics? What was the judgement that was coming up for me and why?
The first I noticed was that appearance was a big thing that kept coming up. The thoughts of ‘she shouldn’t be wearing that’ came up a lot in the hour that I spent sat observing. Where had this come from? I’d always thought that I was an open person who didn’t judge people based on how they looked, what was this criticism of others and where had it come from.
The monkey mind started churning through all the stored memories that were in the bank and there it was. As a child, my Mum, always uncomfortable with her weight and how she looked, would always comment on what other women looked like, what they were wearing, their size and her thoughts on whether bigger women should be wearing certain clothes. This had stuck with me and in many ways had added to my lack of confidence in how I looked and what I wore. I remember one evening, having spent hours getting ready with some girlfriends, coming downstairs and having my Mum tell me I couldn’t go out dressed like this as my thighs looked far too big. This had further engrained my feelings and my judgement on others.
Throughout my career there have been many situations where I could have fallen into a place of judgement, and perhaps times when I did judge others, but an important part of my role in HR, was to listen, to understand why things may have occurred and to be impartial in the support I was providing and the advice I was giving. By stepping back, listening, paying attention and letting go of judgement, I was better prepared to help to find the right solution.
Over the years I have come to understand that judging others, is something that comes up when it mirrors something in me. Judging myself and others also occurs more when I’m tired, stressed, not looking after myself properly or when my mental health is taking a turn for the worst.
And if the same is true for others, then it’s probably no surprise that with everything that’s going on at the minute that we may be more susceptible to judging others. You may have seen the news about the comments made by KPMG boss Bill Michael making comments about ‘victims’; I’d put this in the judgement category.
Now I certainly don’t condone this type of comment being made to anyone, and certainly not to 500 staff in a team call as reported, yet I’ve learned over the years to question what is going on for people when this type of comment is made. I’ve never believed, even with the ludicrous and often questionable behaviour that comes into question at a disciplinary or grievance hearing, that anyone comes to work determined to do a bad job or to upset people.
I don’t believe that anyone deliberately sets out to upset 500 people on a call, and yet it’s happened. My question though, is what’s going on for him in order for this type of comment to be made?
How’s lockdown been treating him? Has someone said to him that he can’t complain about lockdown or behave like a victim given his probably large and comfortable salary and job security? Has someone close to him become seriously ill and therefore his capacity to listen to people who say they are struggling when he’s faced with or dealing with something serious in his personal life?
I talk about emotional fatigue a lot in the HR Community and with Senior People Leaders. Any role that means we come into contact with or lead people, can result in emotional fatigue if we are not topping up our emotional and energy tanks. As People Leaders, if we are going through tough times in our work or at home and someone wants to talk to us about a seemingly insignificant issue (to us), if we’re close to breaking point, we may not give them the space and time they need, our professionalism may jump out of the window for a moment, or we may be able to hold it together in that moment, but lose it with someone else later on.
A friend of mine has been having a really tough time with a critical illness over the last six months, a few days ago she broke down in tears in her kitchen, full of rage and sadness, after her delivery driver who had arrived with her shopping was having a bit of a moan about the traffic.
Over the past couple of months I’ve been coaching two senior Mental Health Professionals, within a week of each other one had snapped at a colleague and one was riddled with guilt after being ‘quite blunt’ with a patient. They both spoke to me about it and in their supervision sessions, they are close to burn out.
Times are hard right now.
We’re reacting to things we normally wouldn’t because of everything that is going on for us and around us.
We need to look after ourselves.
If you are finding that you are judging others, or that others are judging you (including your own self-talk, I’d invite you, when the world opens again to find a space where you can sit quietly and observe, noticing what comes up for you, and in the meantime, start perhaps with these three questions:
Letting go of judgement could be the greatest gift you give to yourself right now, give it a go.
She leads and coaches with an open heart, an open mind and has the courage to challenge the status quo and do things differently so that we can all love our roles, find balance in our lives and so that we can all change the world of work for the better.