Judge less, Listen more

Elisa A Escalante/ LCSW/ 7-4-2021

“You can’t say that you truly value diversity, if you do not value the diversity of the human mind. And yes, this also means the differences in our world views.” -EaE

Every now and then, a therapist is tasked with the nerve-racking assignment of giving therapy to… another therapist. Yes, this is very intimidating, they know the craft too! It’s challenging enough to build rapport with clients, but to constantly wonder if they are analyzing and critiquing your therapy style is a whole other challenge.

Fortunately, I was able to build rapport, and found my therapist client not only discussing his own life, but also the frustrations with his caseload in his private practice. This was 2020, political tensions very high.

“How in the world do you bite your tongue when your client has completely different political beliefs? Beliefs that you may find damaging, bigoted or destructive?” A question he posed to me. A very good question!

My answer: “I look at it in terms of how I can learn from a persons viewpoints. When I hear their beliefs and how they came to that conclusion about said beliefs, I then know more about who they are. Something led to those beliefs, there’s a story there that is going to unfold. There is upbringing, influences, traumas, grievances and life lessons that led them to the very viewpoint they have. No matter how off it may seem, it will all make sense after you hear their story.”

The therapist client praised my outlook and also let it sink in. It is, after all, very hard to bite our tongues in session at times! We are the listeners, the helping agents. More often than not, we don’t get to have a voice. We judge less, and listen more by trade. We also wish more of humanity would adopt these values.

Why do we judge?

⁃ Blame shifting

⁃ Eases insecurity

⁃ Allows for a target to project anger toward

⁃ We believe we know more than we do

⁃ We only heard the bad part of the story

⁃ Discomfort in diversity

⁃ Fear of confronting our personal cognitive dissonance

⁃ We find other people’s misfortunes comical

⁃ We get a false sense of superiority

Why don’t we listen?

⁃ It takes more mental energy vs simply talking about what we already know

⁃ Time crunches

⁃ Peoples emotions may trigger us

⁃ We may inherently put ourselves first

⁃ We may already dislike the speaker and therefore dismiss their views

⁃ We compulsively want to argue against what was said that we happen to disagree with

⁃ Stress/ burnout/ compassion fatigue

Again, there is a story behind every individuals worldview. No one is born with a world view, it gets shaped over time with societal, environmental, family and peer influences. We are a victim of circumstances at times, and also, a victim to our world view so to speak. Unless something else comes along to shaken and stir up our life, it could be cemented in for quite some time.

With this information, it’s important to note, we aren’t going to change someone’s life long world view with a five minute internet argument. Sorry to break it to people. Then when in a state of anger, hurling insults as their bias conflicts with your bias, the end result will likely be, no ones mind has changed but now there is a mutual disrespect.

Why is this tactic so common when it has proven not to work time and time again? It seems the less we feel heard and validated, the crankier we get. Pay attention, we need to listen to each other.

I can’t even begin to express how many times I said one thing that bothered me and was accused of being an endless series of things that I am not. Pre recorded assumptions and insults hurled my way because I had a vent that sounded too …. familiar? Triggering? It’s obvious when someone isn’t finished arguing with the last person they argued with. The key sign? It doesn’t even sound like they are staying on task with what you’re debating about.

I’ve spent a good deal of time (shamefully) reading social media arguments. Though a lot of this was for entertainment purposes, I started to find a surplus of wisdom through it. I now know the argument, counter argument, counter to the counter argument etc for almost every hot topic in America. I also was able to learn what brought people to the conclusions they landed on. Being completely honest, it did get boring after a while. I would truly like to see new and improved talking points/ perceptions.

Many get angry when others viewpoints don’t match there’s. I often get happy. It reminds me of the freedom and liberty we have to be different. The freedom we have to get in our silly little online arguments all day long. We have the freedom to believe as we want. The freedom to engage in the argument or block someone. The freedom to watch the news all day or decide to stop watching it all together.

But again, for wisdom and clarity, I do advise that we practice the art of judging less and listening more. It expands the world view, it fosters respect and it weeds out unnecessary banter. With that I will say, Happy Firework Day, be mindful that you are triggering the veterans. If you actually care about that, please keep the fireworks in a respectable and predictable location!!! (I can only wish!)

Published by functionallymentall

Social Worker, Writer, USAF Veteran

2 thoughts on “Judge less, Listen more

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