Judging or Asking?


Hmmmm . . .

So many people are concerned about being judged or being judgmental. But, as a result, are we becoming overly sensitive about expressing ourselves? Are we becoming too politically correct?

Can I tell you what I think without you feeling judged?


Can you recognize—and value—that my opinion is just that? My opinion.

Perception Language makes this possible.

But before we get to that, let’s take a moment to recognize that we all make judgments every day.

How we invest and spend our money involves judgments. Who to invite and who NOT to invite to social functions involves judgments. To run the yellow light or stop. To pass the car in front of us or not. To work late or go home and be with our families. We make judgments all day long.

Being “judgmental” in these ways isn’t what people get all amped up about. It’s judgments that have to do with placing a value on people. When we judge people as good or bad, right or wrong—value judgments—people become hyper sensitive.

But there is a difference between judging and asking

I recently spoke with my ex-wife. We hadn’t talked in a very long time—a year or two. We were catching up. And during this conversation she felt judged by me. But, from my point of view I wasn’t judging, I was genuinely asking.

She told me about some events in her life that caused her terrible emotional pain. I asked if she could have made other choices, ones that would have resulted in less pain. I was genuinely curious—curious about her, curious about the ways we suffer, curious about the value of suffering, curious if I could avoid such suffering in my life if I were faced with similar circumstances.

But, what she heard was some kind of judgment. To her credit, instead of backing away from me, which she later said she was tempted to do, she continued to engage and explain more about her choices and her situation. I came to deeply appreciate the choices she made in her life. And, although I still have questions about whether I would make the same choices, I’m not judging her.

We need to be able to express our differences without judging people. The best way I know to do this is to use Perception Language. Because if you step into the world of Live Conscious and Perception Language you step into a world without worry about what other people think of you—or less worry.

With Perception Language , we realize people are never telling us about us, they are always telling us about themselves. So when someone says to me, “Oh my god, you must feel so embarrassed,” what I hear them saying is that if they were in my shoes, they would feel embarrassed.

Or, if someone tells me, “You’re being really harsh,” I hear them saying that if they behaved the way I behave, they would feel like they were being harsh. Okay, I hear you, but I don’t hear you judging me. I hear you telling me about yourself.

In the world of Live Conscious we don’t make judgments about whether other people are good or not. Instead, we express ourselves by talking about our needs, wants, and our boundaries.

“I need you to be totally honest with me,” is not the same as saying, “You’re dishonest.”

“I don’t feel comfortable when you flirt with people,” is not saying, “You’re untrustworthy.”

“I don’t like it when you speak to me that way,” is not saying, “You’re rude.”

In each of the above examples I am giving you information about me. I am not telling you about you.

People have a right to tell us what they want, need, and feel. The problem is—if they don’t use Conscious language—we will think they are telling us about ourselves. Then we get defensive and the conversation shifts from focusing on how they were feeling to accusing them of judging us. Then they say, “You’re not listening to me . . .” and the whole thing goes downhill from there.

So—you might ask—if I was using Perception Language with my ex-wife, why did she feel judged by me? Well, if she reads this blog, maybe she’ll comment, but here’s my take. I imagine that she may not have felt supported by my questions, almost as if I were challenging her decisions. Even so, because I was using Perception Language, it was easier for her to stay engaged with me, which allowed us to reach a deeper understanding. And, had she known conscious Language, she wouldn’t have felt judged in the first place. This is why it’s so valuable to learn and practice Perception Language as a couple.

Tension naturally increases when people we respect don’t agree with us. But instead of pushing back and saying, “Don’t judge me,” we can help ourselves by entertaining other people’s ideas and opinions. We can learn and grow and expand our own view. Using Perception Language doesn’t guarantee that people won’t feel judged, but it significantly reduces the likelihood.

Here’s a test: Are you judgmental?

Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 1.49.06 PM

Do you make a value judgment about this man?

Do you feel compassion for him?

Do you want to understand him?

If you met him, what would you want to ask him?


When we live in the Live Conscious orientation we become more certain about ourselves and less certain about other people—judgmentalness is replaced with curiosity.

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