Judgmental attitude and approach is a very natural process for the human beings. It is very important to understand to use it appropriately according to the context. Coaching is a context where judgmental behavior and approach is absolutely forbidden as it violates the basic pillar of coaching: Coaching should be non-judgmental!
First of all, coaching should not be judgmental because during a coaching session we must listen carefully and globally to the other person, who is trying to open up with us in order to find a solution to his problem. He is putting his feelings, thoughts, doubts and emotions in front of us trying to build trust and to feel free to speak the best he can. If we begin to judge him, he will feel that he is being judged, he will close in, turning back into the road he has just built for coming to visit us and search for help. Research has shown that young people especially[i]are able to detect judgment from another; if they don’t feel accepted they may stop opening up to you and being honest. Being non- judgmental will affect the ability of the coachee to open up, to create trust and to discover new perspectives within him, discovering also new potential.
Second, in coaching we have to not be judgmental because we need to ask, ask and ask more. We need to ask a lot of questions for understanding who is in front of us, to whom we are talking, what are his ideas, thoughts, experiences, doubts, values and beliefs. If we begin to judge, forecasting or prejudicing the person, that means we will not have the curiosity to ask any more questions to him so that the coaching pillar of asking questions begins to fall. Judgment goes in the opposite direction of curiosity that is one of the necessary attitude and skill to develop for an effective coaching. As Chad Hall, mention in his book, The coaching mind set: 8 ways to think like a coach, “The enemy of curiosity is judgment. A judging attitude says, “I know what this is.” Judging something as positive can be just as detrimental in coaching because judging shuts down the learning process. The benefit of being non- judgmental increases the fair and humble curiosity versus what the other is saying or what he is thinking. This naturally opens new perspectives also for the coach, who gets more into the coaches situation, getting more involved and increasing the bond with his client.
Third, non-judging goes hand in hand with empathic listening. According to Stephen Covey, “in empathic listening, you listen with your ears, but you also, and more importantly, listen with your eyes and with your heart. You listen for feeling, for meaning. You have to sense, to intuit, to feel.” This is the ultimate goal in order to reach a full integration with the coachee’s problems and issues. The benefit of this kind of listening is reaching a genuine acceptance that means respecting the person’s feelings, personal values and experiences as valid, even if they are different from your own or you disagree with them. Full respect translates again into trust and respect from the other side, reaching full potential of the relationship.
Non-judgmental listening does not mean you will not judge. It means you will listen without allowing yourself to apply your judgments to what you hear. We have to become aware of our judgments but we have to limit its use. We are conscious about it but we gain control of it. This is how we can reach the full benefit of non being judgmental.