Observing rather than Evaluating

The Indian philosopher J. Krishnamurti once remarked that observing without evaluating is the highest form of human intelligence.

It does seem difficult in our western culture not to voice our evaluation or judgment. We might claim someone has a big mouth, when what we observe is he tells long stories that extend meeting times and make people late . Being a big mouth is an evaluation. It helps when we can observe and describe that observation as part of our communication, especially if we are hoping for some change. When we judge, we add on our own prism and evaluation. Often that weight makes it hard for anyone to really hear what we have to say.  Plus when we label something, whether we evaluate it as positive or not positive,  it can be limiting to effective communication. Is our evaluation right? Wrong? Who decides? With an evaluation approach we are likely to get a defensive, offensive or passive/aggressive response.

If we share what we observe rather than only our personal assessment or evaluation we have a much better opportunity that something positive would come from the exchange.  To give someone our evaluation only, such as “You are too needy” rather than including our observation of “When you call me 5 times a day, I think you are too needy”  provides a different kind of communication. And helps us too, when we feel clearer as to why we evaluated someone this way.

There are many steps in compassionate communication that starts with observing without evaluating. For many of us, getting clear on these distinctions when we speak might help calm down our own monkey mind, allow more relaxation in our bodies and provide better reception from those we communicate.

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