Judgment or evaluation?

Krishnamurti said: the highest form of intelligence is the ability to observe without judging. Therefore, let’s consider the difference between judgement and evaluation and the possible effects that they can have on the people involved.

As leaders, communicators and educators when we give feedback or make decisions with others, or where others are involved, it is important to first be clear with ourselves if what we are giving is a judgment or an evaluation.

First of all what is the difference between the two? I am reminded of an example: if we look at two different light sources, for example, a candle and a 100-watt bulb, or the sun and a light bulb, we can see the difference in the quality and intensity of light emitted by both sources. I give an evaluation if I say that one source is brighter than the other. This comes from a pure and simple observation. I express a judgement if I say that a source is too bright or the other is not bright enough.

Without going too far into complex area, in general, a judgment stems from a dualistic tendency inherent in many of us to distinguish what we like from what we do not like, good from evil, right from wrong, the intelligent from the stupid etc.. Judgement is born from a need, sometimes unconsciously, to be right, to be and to feel right.

An observation or evaluation comes from a specific position, that is, when we talk and think from a vantage point that is above our personal circumstances, which is independent of the parties involved. To free ourselves from the dualistic tendency mentioned earlier we need to feedback the situation to the others as if it were a plane mirror, reflecting only what you see. In the world of personal performance and leadership this is a key principle.

What are the effects of a judgment and an observation/evaluation? *

Very often a judgment creates a disconnected, a defensive reaction or aggressiveness in the speaker. The reply, therefore, will be reactive and not proactive. It will respond to the judgment and not to the data. A judgment does not give space for free thought.

A remark passed in a neutral way allows those who receive it to assess it, to figure out how to proceed, thus to make decisions that are constructive for both parties. To voice a neutral observation to our interlocutor means to communicate effectively from a position of leadership and influence that gives, nevertheless, to the interlocutor time to think and act. It means to communicate without any emotional charge. This is a profound quality of leadership.

Obviously, the biggest challenge lies in the ability to communicate in negative circumstances, when it is necessary to point out what is missing, what is inaccurate or inefficient without adding, with judgment, additional negativity to a situation that is already bad. In these circumstances it is important to weigh the speaker’s emotional charge and verify one’s own intentions. It is important to be clear about one’s own intentions. In essence, we should always ask honestly ourselves, with what intention I say what I say and I communicate?

* I take the opportunity to say that it would be better, therefore, to speak of 'observation' rather than evaluation.

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