Judgment vs. Curiosity

I wrote a post yesterday (Dating Advice Books) that didn’t garner much debate… at least not on my blog. I was hoping someone would comment that they wouldn’t feel manipulated, knowing someone had consumed all these “how-to” guides about finding and keeping a mate. But that didn’t really happen.

As some of you know, I love to debate. Vigorously.

However, it’s a life long lesson of mine to remember that not everyone else does. I can be rather, um, passionate. Some people feel interrogated or bullied. They don’t like being questioned or discussing contradictory views. Or they can’t be bothered.

Ideas and opinions are amazing things…even more so, when they are fluid instead of unyielding. One of the things I truly value is being in a place (intellectual and physical) where people can disagree and debate. I also fundamentally believe in the importance of growing as a human being, which means I believe my opinions should change over time.

Because of that, regardless of the intensity of the debate, I listen quite closely to what people say, and am very willing to say “yes, that’s a good point…that alters my opinion”. I LOVE it when that happens, because I feel like I end up with a more refined view.

I live in a world of grey. Which is also why I hated those OK Cupid questions.

But anyway…back to my post.

Today, a reader told me they thought my post was judgmental. I clarified what I was being judgmental about:

  • That woman is beautiful, smart, a business owner, etc.
  • She’s come to believe that she should be something she’s not, in order to “keep” a man, so she now engages in a lot of artificial rules and games.
  • But the irony is, it hasn’t worked.
  • She’s lost her self confidence, which I think is sad.
  • It would be great if our focus could be on accepting ourselves for who we are, understand others point of views, and how men and women are different.
  • But there is a massive amount of literature that reinforces our fears and insecurities.

The topic could be a whole post in itself, which is why I didn’t include it. But our discussion got me thinking about being judged for being judgmental.

I seek to understand and be understood. I am curious about ideas and opinions. Rarely judgmental about them. [Notable exceptions would be: people who don’t believe in the fundamental equality of all human beings and who don’t believe in the damage humans have done to the planet and the creatures we share it with.] 

Obviously, that doesn’t always come across as such. You may have a different reaction to me if I was sitting across from you, glass of wine in hand. In the virtual world, you can’t hear my intonation, see my smile, know when I’m joking and when I’m gently inquiring. It’s all flat. My writing capability is probably not good enough to do any better.

I like to know why someone has a different opinion than I do. I will often ask a question a different way, or probe deeper, to understand where my opinions differ. I will push to an extreme example to see where their opinion changes. It’s all about understanding.

It’s my curious nature…

…and we all know the saying about what happened to the curious cat.

Making it personal, however, is off-limits. I try not to make the idea and the person equivalent. There are lots of bad ideas, decisions, and actions, but way fewer bad people.

But on the other hand, if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…

Perhaps that’s a discussion for another day.


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0 thoughts on “Judgment vs. Curiosity

  1. I didn’t say it yesterday but I wouldn’t feel manipulated. How many courses have we taken over the years for corporations that teach us how to manage people differently, behavioral styles, learn to manage your manager etc….I could go on forever with the number of leadership courses I have taken. How is this any different? Someone is trying to educate themselves in, perhaps, the best or only way they understand how to process information. Maybe not your wY or my way but something that works for them. Do I feel manipulated at work when I have to take yet another personality survey, get out in a quadrant and then let people decide how best to interact with an emotional human being? Perhaps they are looking for a rational way in an irrational world….I’m not debating because I agree with you…BUT, it did make me think of all those similar type of helpful leadership courses I have taken! Maybe one of those books has ‘the” answer!

    • I love debate so no worries. It’s an interesting correlation you make…I too have taken many similar courses.

      I don’t feel manipulated when the goal is to better UNDERSTAND and honour how someone wants to be motivated and communicated to.

      I appreciate it when someone has taken time to educate themselves on what makes me tick, or different communications styles, or different ways of interacting with people, etcetera.

      I suppose the difference for me is when the purpose of the books for women is to attract and keep a man. But I have to think more about that…because I’m not sure why it’s different in my head.

      • I think it has something to do with the motivation behind reading those “self help” style books. Some people read them out of curiosity, they look at them critically and cherry pick ideas and concepts that might enhance their own lives/relationships. It’s a way to better themselves, put their best foot forward.

        Other people read the books like they’re gospel. They try and change their lives to fit someone else’s ideas, become something they aren’t. Or read those books specifically to manipulate a certain reaction/result with another person.

        That’d be where I would draw the line between productive and potentially damaging to a person.

      • But isn’t the point of an executive to attract and keep – employees? Customers? Business? Etc? For instance, each designer I work with requires me to have a different taste level, I need to adjust my personal style to attract their attention to what they prefer. Rarely is it the other way round in a design situation. However, my employees probably adapt their styles to suit me. I’m sure they discuss “that’s how M likes it….for a presentation”.

          • I would say the difference between work relationships and personal ones is that in the former you are being paid money to spend time with people you might not otherwise want to. So it makes sense that you might need artificial strategies to deal effectively with those people (so that you can all keep getting paid without killing each other).

            But if you transpose those kinds of strategies into the personal realm, it seems to me you’re missing the point of personal relationships, which is that they’re supposed to be enjoyable and enriching. If you treat people you’re hoping to develop intimacy with like opponents in a chess game, it won’t be long before they start playing the part.

          • That’s a very good point you raise. The application of the theory to work feels very different to me, and I think the reason you mention is one aspect of it.

            I’m going to be posting some old journal entries about my ex…he was a master “chess player”, and I suppose that’s part of my visceral reaction to the manipulation…he told me what he thought I wanted to hear and what he should say.

  2. Anne, I am as you are when it comes to debating or talking. Reading how others are when you “debate” or “inquire” is so true. I’ve not commented as openly as I woukd because of those reasons you talk about. Sometimes I do and most times I don’t because people react differently to perspectives. Perspectives are judgements but they fucking exist in whatever form we name them. I think that what we are sensitive to is partly determined by the way we define ourselves and how strongly we stand in those definitions. I’m open to being wrong and I’m open to others having answers that I don’t know about. I also know that THAT determination is mine to make, not someone else’s. Your post about all those books – I wouldn’t feel manipulated and I didn’t care or judge the woman who read all of those. If she were a man I was dating…I would probably ask questions to see where his mind was. Curiosity and exploration is the way of growth. I have many books of all sorts and if someone were to judge me by them and assume to know me, that would just be ignorant. Unless they actually know me and how I live, their opinion isn’t worth much but I’d love to hear it and take it from there. For me, in situations where people judge, I have to ask how well they know the person or subject they are judging and their credibility grows or wanes from that point of knowledge.

  3. Being judgemental is not the same as having an opinion. One you believe in and one you will defend unless a better opinion comes along that ill adjust your views. It is for that reason we debate or even argue.
    The problem most of us have and me included is that I sometime lose sight of the fact I can be wrong.

    That moment is when we start disagreeing and have to be careful not to end in shouting match.

    Sharing opinions is a way to learn from each other. That way we can adjust our own opinion to suit a better meaning.

    Calling someone judgemental is being judgemental in my very own opinion. I however love to debate and I will stand on my ground if I believe I am right, knowing I can be wrong when proven so. One extra is that I will not really be sorry for things said. And that would make people call me judgemental, only because I stand on my opinion. I do not have to be sorry if I truly believe it to be true.

    So in my curious nature I always look for an opinion to learn the view of others. To match up my own and rethink my own to an opinion that I think is even true and one I stand behind with straight back.

    So hear hear, lady Ann and share with us your thoughts and opinion upon we can learn and debate.

  4. I’m glad you added an addendum, if you will, to the previous post. As I told you off-blog, I believe those thoughts were important to the over-all picture and deserved to be in the meat of the post. Turns out they got their own. Even better. 🙂

  5. I think it’s all about how you ask your questions, really. But as you said, it’s hard to assess tone online and in print. Perhaps when you do probe deeper you should preface your questions by saying you’re genuinely curious and trying to understand?

  6. Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we all had the same opinion? I try to always give my truthful opinion on posts – but I do have to admit that just recently, I wrote a “rebuttal” of sorts to a post on another blog about a subject people feel quite strongly about – and then I chickened out about posting it. All of the commenters were of one view (and, quite frankly, it’s not an incorrect view – there is certainly a problem and it needs to be addressed). My issue was that there was almost a mob-like mentality going on in regards to the perceived villains and what society should do with them – and I didn’t agree with that. I admit it – I was afraid. Afraid that if I posted my views that I would be the target of the anger and hatred that the commenters were so caught up in – so I quietly deleted my comment before posting it – and I haven’t joined the ongoing comments since.

    • Oh that’s too bad, but I can totally relate. Although I write openly about myself, there are times I don’t weigh in in comments because of what you speak. I don’t want to piss anyone off too badly.

    • I shy away from saying “of course I’m judging”…but it’s because of the negative connotation. And my judgments aren’t final…I tend to give people my time and energy long past the time that I should move on.

      But yes, I do find that perhaps it’s used as a criticism mainly by those who wouldn’t be as vocal about their opinions.

What do you think?