Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply
I am always striving to “be more coach like” (as Michael Bungay Stanier would challenge us to do) and a key disposition I have been deliberately practicing is awareness of my judgement.
Staying neutral and non-judgemental is a bigger challenge than you might think. According to Elisha Goldstein,
left alone, the brain will automatically judge things as good or bad, right or wrong, fair or unfair, important or unimportant, urgent or non-urgent
Practiced Non-Judgementalism is a coaching principle I learned (and had modelled) by Neil Hopkin during one of my visits to Shanghai. You might summarise it in the following way:
When we evaluate and judge, we impose premature closure, we arrest thinking and dialogue, we waste energy seeking one answer and miss the interesting lines of inquiry, we listen with the intent to reply.
When we listen without imposing judgement, we keep the dialogue open and exploratory, we waste no energy seeking one answer, we focus our efforts on better questions, we listen to understand.