The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Involving judgments

A detail that is often forgotten is that judgment can be represented through praise as well as blame.

Their presence transforms a conversation. Praise introduces the possibility for blame and blame introduces the hope for praise. A point of attention here is that the interpretation of a statement as praise or blame is not entirely left to the person sharing her ideas or the person listening.

A difference judgment often makes is in the moralizing element it contributes. Whenever a moralizing element appears, it generates an idea that the person is good or bad. It distracts from creating the space to focus on the objectives and the possibility of starting with a neutral assessment.

Taking up a different attitude which Eric Berne described as ok-ok, the situation can shift. It’s an attitude based on the idea that once people see themselves as ok and see the other as just as ok the shared understanding becomes that the conversation isn’t about criticizing or judging. It becomes a conversation that allows to exchange information. It enables gaining a better understanding of what is being discussed and how it is being perceived. With an ok-ok attitude comes the ability to integrate different elements of a situation as indistinguishable parts of it. This includes those one may like or not. It removes the importance of details and highlights the experience of the situation as such. It’s accepting reality as it is.

This is not to say that one approach is better than the other. It entirely depends on the objective and the context. Sometimes there is a necessity to determine if an individual is responsible for the situation. Sometimes it is important to assess a situation and see how it can be addressed. Quite often this approach requires the ability of all those involved to see their shared responsibility.

This isn’t either to prevent people from sharing praise. It will not always be meant as a judgment. Sometimes it is genuine praise, and sometimes it is there to reassure the speaker. They may be dealing with their anxiety of being misunderstood or not being seen as friendly enough.


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