One of my jobs these days is “Transitional Coaching”. Life “in-between” endings and beginnings can be filled with confusion, chaos, fear and self-doubt. I accompany people in these spaces.
After a recent coaching session via Skype with a person in another state, I took a hike. As I walked, I thought about our conversation. But, what kept coming to me was not the words but the visual. I could only see his face and shirt collar. The back ground was blinds and a blank wall.
I realized how much is lost in just seeing his face. There is no visual context to place the person in. I could not read body language. I realized that the limits of the visual represents the limits of my awareness of the person’s life. Through the stories he tells me I get glimpses, but only glimpses. There is so much of his life and history that are informing what he is saying to me that I will never know.
This is why I think Jesus advised his disciples to “Judge not that you be not judged.” When we make judgments about others, we often do so without very much information about how they got to where they are. Even if we get some information, there is much that we cannot see in the screen we are using to see them.
And this is not simply a problem for our relationship with others. It is also true for ourselves. We sometimes judge ourselves with only a glimpse into what is really shaping our actions. What we do is shaped by a life-time of experience, much of it not conscious to us at the time we act. So, being critical of ourselves may not be either helpful or fair.
So, I have found that being quick to judge might take a back seat to asking questions so that we or the other person might access more of their life that it might inform their decision. When that happens, they make their own judgments and maybe make better decisions.