Your Judgement Can Block Your Learning

Quoting Anthony De Mello again:

    “… what you judge you cannot understand. …if you desire to change what is into what you think should be, you no longer understand.”

When you judge you measure what is in front of you against the standards, expectations or values inside your head. You are trying to fit ‘what is’ to your concept of ‘what should be’. Judging can block your learning, which is why one of the requisite skills in a learning organization is the ability to suspend judgment.

For example, a productive brainstorming process is a two-stage process: a free-for-all no-judgment no-evaluation idea generation stage followed by a weeding-out selection or judgment/evaluation stage to arrive at the single or few best ideas. The first stage uses divergent thinking where the P-type (MBTI type) members exercise their right-brain talents of idea generation. The second stage uses convergent thinking where the J-type members exercise their left-brain screening and judgment talents. Brainstorming would be less productive if the J-types are allowed to control the first stage, or the P-types are allowed free rein in the second stage.

In the 12 Manners of Voicing (see blog entitled “L14- Voicing”), the least productive of learning are those that entail exercising judgment (the brown areas below) and the most productive are those that require suspending judgment and respecting the other person (the green areas below).



In the 12 Types of Learning (see blog entitled “12 Types of Learning”), the most productive of understanding one another are those types (those on the left side of the diagram below) where a person can show to another her past experiences that throw light in how she came to adopt her current beliefs, paradigms, interests and values. This is why story listening (NOT storytelling) is a most powerful tool for learning and understanding.

Listen to Anthony de Mello: “the shortest distance between a human being and truth is a story.”

12 ways we learn


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11 Responses to “Your Judgement Can Block Your Learning”

  1. Shantanu Das Says:


    Really your site and blogs and everything are fantastic. Lots of information to enlighten us!!

  2. Shantanu Das Says:

    Oh by the way Sir, I at the end did not pursue my PhD!! The college where I was doing it did not seem to like KM as an area and even for SCM which they suggested and I too could do I did not get a Guide who can actually teach me something valuable. no point in just getting a PhD if I do not really add value! Anyway..there were other personal factors like my goals changing .. no regrets.

    A mere degree does not make one knowledgeable. BUT now question is how do you think I can develop myself in this area of KM, Sir & what ways can I work in this? One is to do something in my own organisation. But more than that I am looking forward to post retirement activity beyond my organisation which will happen in 8 yrs.

    A degree like PhD does get you automatic respectability but since I am not going to have it what is the alternative, Sir as per you?


  3. Shantanu Das Says:

    lol !! Sorry I forgot to ask, is it okay if I use your matter for my internal use like teaching people and spreading the knowledge?

  4. apintalisayon Says:

    Hi Shantanu, thank you!

    I will be visiting Chennai again. I will be in Chennai and Namakkal late next week.


  5. apintalisayon Says:

    Sure, you can use what you feel people will need.

    I will be arriving in Chennai afternoon of July 16. Call me in the evening at Hotel New Woodland. Let’s talk Shantanu.

    The next day I fly to Tiruchirapalli.

  6. Peter Spence Says:

    Hello Apin,

    I enjoyed the entry re ‘your judgement can block your learning’ and how the topic was delivered – for me I see a familiarity between this topic and the two concepts popularised and proposed by Fisher, Ury and Patton in their best selller book on negotiation, ‘Getting to Yes’ on Negotiation, namely separating postions from interests, and generating options without commitment (or judgement). The importance of suspending judgement, active/reflective listening during negotiations are proposed for the very same reasons you have proposed.

    Drawing comparisons to the negotiation process I see the delineation between positions we take to represent our interests and our actual interests – as you observe, they do not necessarily correspond, and our ‘mindmap’ of what should be does not necessarily match the reality of what is. Rather than judging the other’s positions and defending our own, the use of ‘inquiry’ and regularly asking ‘why’ the other party has taken a position may reveal the underlying reasons or interests behind their position – it also intiaites a process where the other party questions their own position as a true representation of their interest – does this sound similar to your observation: ‘where a person can show to another her past experiences that throw light in how she came to adopt her current beliefs, paradigms, interests and values’?.

    Without judging, attacking or defending personal views, their is a greater propensity to learn more about one another, why we take positions, what our interests are and how we can satisfy them. I suppose that is why we are more successful at communicating – when we suspend judgement and criticism, we are more likely to filter or remove the psychological noise that impedes our ‘negotiation of meaning’. So yes, ‘story listening’ is the most powerful tool for learning and understanding – particularly relevant to cross cultural/functional understanding, resolving disputes etc.

    The process of generating options without commitment or judgement, is the essential ‘brainstorming’ process of problem solving, creating value from diverse and innovative ideas – or enriching the learning process.

    I continue to enjoy (and learn from) the insights of your posts.

    Kind Regards

  7. apintalisayon Says:

    …and I always enjoy and thank you for your always insightful comments Peter.

    In a future blog post (L35) I will talk about the advantages of communicating intentions. This is similar to the approach of communicating each other’s interests in a negotiation process instead of each side sticking to his chosen position (there are many positions that can serve one’s interests, some of which may not have occurred in the mind of either side).

  8. Shantanu Das Says:

    Fantastic Sir!
    I will cal you at the hotel and meet you sir if possible.. Nothing like meeting people who have knowledge.. even bein with them induces knowledge!

    [I am an electrical engr and so the reference to induction)


  9. shantanu das Says:

    Next time you come and have time… do think of travelling by road.. I am an avid traveller and like YOU I also like Photography… we can see lots of places in Tamil Nadu. on the way if we drive.. hmm????? I may be able to take off and go with you on a holiday trip while you are working !!


  10. apintalisayon Says:

    How kind of your Shantanu. Please check with Mr. Rajachidambram of the Ambedkar Institute of Productivity about my schedule in the evening of July 16. BTW you can congratulate him, he was promoted as Deputy Director General of the National Productivity Council of India.

  11. shantanu das Says:

    Ok Sir. will do !!

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