A great challenge for me – anyone – is keeping the judgmental process outside of the perspectives we either express or own.
What does that mean? It means taking the ‘objective’ component out of the ‘subjective’ process of communication.
Why would we want to do this? Isn’t this a step backwards? Actually not. Whether you believe there is such thing as ‘objectivity’ or not (that’s a different debate), it’s clear that the vast majority of what we have the capacity to share is simply our subjective perspective based on what we know, or even more important what we feel. We simply do not have the capacity to speak objectively. When we attempt to do so, we end up ‘judging’ (ie. in the eyes of Jesus Christ, sinning).
The height of maturity is the ability to stay true to our own perspective, but still allow room for other perspectives.
Here are examples where we can make subtle, but powerful, shifts in our language to more mature language:
- In a customer survey, instead of scaling ‘poor or excellent’ we could scale from ‘unsatisfied or satisfied’.
- In a musical review, instead of saying a piece of art is ‘good’ or ‘poor’, we can say ‘struck me’ or ‘didn’t strike me’.
- In a description of a person, instead of saying this person is ‘beautiful’ or ‘ugly’, we can say ‘I’m attracted’ or ‘I’m not attracted’.
Now I’m the first one to say I don’t always do this. The forces that be in the world we live make it inordinately hard to not only be aware of this, but also implement this.
Further, to be always doing makes language clumsy and awkward. Finally, it’s often self-evident when we don’t intend to overstep our perspective – explicit language is generally not necessary.
When, then, should we do this? We do this when the consequences of miscommunication are greater than the effort involved in making such adjustment. This might end up being just 5% of our total communication, but an essential 5%.
This is generally true when describing people and our relationships with them – generally areas which are highly sensitive. This is also true of any formal or recorded statement.
It’s important to note it feels ‘better’ when we do this – if we’re sensitive to our own feelings, we realize we’ve created less karmic baggage, stepped on fewer toes, and freed ourselves from a great many ‘faux pas’ in the process. We also feel a stronger congruence between our feelings and our words, and a general sense of confidence in our expression and perspective.