From Judgment to Curiosity

 
William Isaacs, in his classic book called Dialogue, writes that the kind of thought “that applies force to try to make someone be different” is a form of violence. “It imposes from the outside a false logic that creates the violence we see in the world. And it all begins between our ears.” So often in the business world, we see leaders focusing on the differences they perceive:
  • the employee who just doesn’t “fit in”
  • the areas of disagreement with other departments
  • the customers who just can’t understand the products or services

Mr. Isaac states that we must look for coherence first – before we make judgments. This is the art of appreciating the whole, that helps us to learn to inquire into what is, not to constantly produce what we think should be. This kind of wholistic thinking also helps us to see that all of these individuals are a part of our world, and the way they see things makes sense for them – and possibly us as well.

This kind wholistic thinking has the potential to change a divisive situation into curiousity. When a leader follows their curiousity by using inquiry, the possibiliy of creating solutions that are bigger, better, and more collaborative.

When you feel those judgments (”violent thoughts”) bubbling up, be curious:

  • How are these “different” ideas part of a larger whole?
  • How might these ideas serve? What benefit can be derived for my leadership and our organization?

With deliberation and discipline, turning “violent” thoughts into inquiry as a way of opening up to differences can be the beginning of the innovation that most organizations seek today.

 

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Mary Jo Asmus is the founder and President of Aspire Collaborative Services LLC, an executive coach, writer, internationally recognized thought leader, and a consultant who partners with organizations of all kinds to develop and administer coaching programs. She has “walked in your shoes” as a former leader in a Fortune company.

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