Do I really know better than you?!
Last week I watched a game of the German national soccer team in the context of EM20 (European Championship 2020, taking place this year because of the pandemic) together with my son. In various situations we commented on the game, individual actions of the players and the referee. “That wasn’t a foul at all!”, or also “That has to be penalized, it was obviously a foul!” etc. The spectators in the stadium – to be seen again and again in the picture -, scolded loudly with intense facial expressions, whenever something did not go according to their so excellent assessment. “When the German national team plays, there are over 80 million self-appointed national coaches!”, this statement of a journalist recently on television brings it to the point! But: Is it really like that? Are we really experts or do we only have this opinion about us?
If we look more closely, the following happens in these moments: First, we perceive a situation and immediately make a judgment about it. We are annoyed and angry when we feel that we have not been treated fairly. For sure, we know much better how things should have gone, and with us in the situation, these would certainly have worked out. If we look even more closely, we pass judgment solely from OUR perspective, with OUR prior knowledge, from our emotional situation. But how is the other person doing? Does the player on the far left of the field see that on the far right of the other side, one of his teammates is standing completely free, whom he could have played to? – From the camera perspective we have, it’s easy to see -. Did the referee have a chance to see from a distance of 30, 50 or even more meters whether the touching of two players was really a foul or not (knowing that it’s not uncommon that players fake it for their own advantage)?
We judge quickly and impulsively. Emotions arise, sometimes the amygdala (our ‘alarm system’ in the head) also takes control of the entire brain. The consequence: Clear thinking at this moment? No way! We are sure, we know it better, we could do it better and we would do it better in any case. Seriously? Do we know what it’s like to stand on the pitch, watched by millions of people, booed in the stadium as soon as a ball doesn’t fly quite happily or I even make a mistake? Making a decision about where my next pass is going to go, without having an overview of the entire game? I don’t think so!
From reading this blog post, it may seem that I’m a big football fan! At major tournaments I actually like to watch, that’s it. But these moments, when we think we know best how something should be, don’t just happen there. They also happen at work when we work together. Do I always know what you already know, how you’re feeling at the moment, what your intention is when working on a task? I’m not on the board. To what extent can I then judge and evaluate strategic decisions that are made there? Or in being with my children: do I know what happened at school, what their concerns are and what they may not yet be able/want to share directly with me in a specific moment?
Don’t get me wrong: It is NOT about no longer evaluating and judging, accepting everything without being asked and always being in 100 understanding of my counterpart. IT IS ABOUT
- seeing the person(s) in the situation as human beings – who can make mistakes and still do the best they can
- asking questions instead of judging and condemning when I don’t really have the transparency yet
- noticing I often have a different perspective, cannot see some things at all
- and even if we look at something from the same point of view, we will never really see or perceive exactly the same thing.
My personal advice on this: Be open and look at your fellow human beings and yourself!, no matter if it’s in sports, business or politics, with more humanity! Criticism or even contempt bring no one further. And in the end when we do judge, we are also creating suffering for ourselves. Willingness to understand and compassion motivate us and let us grow further in our tasks and life!
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Content originally posted in LinkedIn.