Have you ever hear someone say, when I first met you I thought your were ______? (i.e. snobby, mean, etc). This is the perfect example of how in an instant our thinking can change how we view people and our willingness to see them for who they are. One of the jargony words we use in coaching is mindset. What is mindset? Mindset is the thoughts, attitude, and feelings that we have toward a situation or person. Our mindset can either open the door to understanding and relationship or it can close it. Why is it so hard to reign our thinking in at times? It only takes an instant for us to be in a frame of mind where we are critical and judge negatively about why someone is doing what they are. When we think we know it all, we shut our minds to curiosity and understanding.
In the fields of counseling and coaching, we have to maintain a clear, positive mindset for our clients and what they are doing in order to be an effective partner and cheerleader in being a tool to help them. In counseling and psychology, we learn about having unconditional positive regard for someone. And in coaching we are taught to maintain a non-judgemental atmosphere, in which we are curious about our client instead of critical.
This is a powerful state of mind that can translate to more then just coaching. It is a powerful way of looking at people in our everyday lives. When I look at someone I know well or don’t know well at all and am curious, it opens the door to understanding about what makes them tick. When I am curious, instead of a know at all, about someone else, it allows we to see them. I can seek to understand them and have compassion for them exactly where they are at. Instead of the opposite, where I think I know how they should be or why they do or should do what they do.
Having a curious mind can open up relationships. In a personal or business relationship, when I am curious I take on a learner’s mindset. A learner’s mindset helps me to learn from others in a way that helps me draw on their strengths and learn in relationship with them. Then I can learn about them and change how I look at and do things. It also changes my internal make-up. When I am learning instead of judging it paves the way to feel respect, happiness, and joy in relationship instead of anger, bitterness, and fear.
So practically speaking, what does that look like? We continually need to be intentional to work on our mindset. Catch yourself in the moment of judgement. Change the judging statement that goes through your head. For instance when it comes to caring for someone, something like “She’s not even trying to help herself.” might go through your mind. Instead ask, “What is keeping her from doing this for herself? Why is she getting stuck? How can I meet her in the middle?” When you’re tempted to judge or be critical of others…be curious instead.