There I was sitting at the tiny wood table in the artisan coffee shop. From the second floor window I could see Emma texting me as I guided her to the one unlocked entrance.
I’m not sure what made me say yes to meeting her. I cringe when someone wants to meet for coffee and ‘pick my brain.’ I usually feel like a zombie has taken a big chunk of my brain and I get nothing in return. But I was spending a lot of hours writing these days and it was good to get out and meet someone new. Plus, there’s the artisan coffee.
When did I become the elder?
I’m glad I said yes, it turned out to be a good conversation. I left energized and a bit surprised. Part way through, something happened. Instead of my usual view that I was having a conversation with an equal, I realized our relationship was a little askew at points.
By age, Emma is a millennial. By the same measure, I’m on the cusp between GenX and Boomer. The fact that I specify being on the cusp should tell you something. Reality hit because I was in the role of elder.
I love when I can help someone because I’ve experienced something and they haven’t. But all of a sudden I found myself talking like the know-it-all old white-haired employees I once disdained at corporate.
Emma has a great deal of experience and though I know her specialty, I’m not an expert and certainly don’t have her specific experience. What was I thinking telling her ‘you should…’
Maybe part of me liked being the mentor. Maybe I was feeling a little competitive. Either way I become someone I didn’t like – for a moment.
Thankfully, the conversation shifted and slowed my decent into judgement. We ended the conversation enthused and looking forward to the next. I drove away grateful for the moment of self-awareness.
Recognizing the Judgement Pattern
A few days later I was about to read a new book I had downloaded. The book is written by someone I admire and I was excited to get started reading. I scanned the table of content curious about the scale and scope she chose. That’s when it happened. The judgement monster reared it’s ugly head.
As I looked at each section title of the book I found myself sorting (judging) them:
-Hmmm…that sounds interesting, or
-Ha! That’ll be a good one – I’ll read that first, or
-Oh, I already know all of that, I don’t need to read it.
Wow. Just like that I made a judgement to NOT read valuable information. Again the shift from curiosity and openness to judgement happened in a moment.
Recognizing the Judgement Source
Neither of these situations is about the other person. It’s all about me. It’s represents how I feel in the situation, my expectations, my assumptions, my fears.
Digging into the source of judgement isn’t easy. It requires us to be brave, open, curious, and most important to want to change and grow.
Choose to Grow
I’m working on judging less and replacing it with curiosity and a desire to learn and grow. From recognizing what triggers judgement to being comfortable with reframing the situation, it takes practice.
Do you recognize yourself in these situations? Do you know when you jump into judgment? What will you do to choose growth instead?