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5 Leadership tips to suspend judgement and create healthy working relationships

Let’s face it – we all judge. Our brains are naturally hardwired to make automatic judgements of the world we live in. It is one of the many ways we as human beings interpret our own reality. And you know what? That is perfectly okay. What is not okay however is when we accept our biased judgement as universal truth and be ignorant of other perspectives. Therefore, how can we as leaders suspend judgement in the everyday workplace?

Suspending judgment is a critical leadership skill all leaders need to develop. When we rely on our own biases of how things should be, we will lose the people we are leading. If left unchecked, we can demoralise and oppress our team members with our ethnocentric point of view. We consequently create a workplace culture that is so toxic it could stifle company growth, prohibit healthy relationships, and suppress the possibility of open and honest communication in the workplace. In order to create healthy and high-functioning teams, we as leaders must stop our biases from getting in the way.


Suspending judgment is a disciplinary skill that requires intentional effort and conscious practice. Here are 5 leadership tips that leaders can do to suspend judgment in the workplace and create healthy relationships at work.


Leadership tips on suspending judgment


1 - Acknowledge that we all judge


The first step to suspending judgment at the workplace is to acknowledge that even leaders are not immune to being biased. Just because we are in positions of authority does not mean our perspective is right. Instead, we should acknowledge that other people might have better ideas than our own.


When we acknowledge and become aware of our own biases, it becomes easier to not only be honest with ourselves but also be open and honest with others. We become more aware of when we are being biased and more conscious about how our attitudes might affect the people we work with. It becomes easier to own up to our own shortcomings and also ask our team to keep our biases in check as needed. Only until we realise that we are part of the problem can we truly be part of the solution.

2 - Commit to being better


Acknowledging our own biases is not enough – we as leaders need to also commit to suspending biases in the workplace. We must have the insatiable desire to not fall trapped in our own biased way of thinking and decision-making. As leaders, we must practice discipline within ourselves and within the collective group. We must be aware of how we are receiving information and try our best to approach information objectively. When processing the data, we must create strategies for unbiased decision-making and make sure to include other perspectives in the mix. Lastly, we must encourage our teams to challenge themselves in suspending their own biases by setting the standard. By committing to becoming better, leaders make themselves (and those around them) accountable to create working environments that are free of judgment.


3 - Be present and listen


Suspending judgment in the workplace requires leaders to be present and active listeners. When we are in tune with the moment, it becomes easier to not get lost in our own biased thoughts. Being present also allows us to be receptive to ideas that we are hearing for the first time.


Being present allows for much-needed pauses. With these brief moments of reflection, our brains can better process what we are thinking when exposed to new ideas. It allows us to catch ourselves when we are more fixated on our own thoughts than on the thoughts of the person we are speaking with.


When we listen twice more than we speak, it allows for creating meaningful connections with our team members to form. By being present with whom we are communicating, we are indirectly telling that person that we care and respect their thoughts and ideas. Most importantly, we are showing the other person that they are seen and heard.


4 - Always be learning and asking questions


Continuous learning and question-seeking are important parts of suspending judgment in the workplace. We must desire to understand the perspectives of other people and see how they interpret their reality.

When we become leaders, we are no longer exposed to the details that happen in the day-to-day operations of the business. Therefore, we must become reliant on our team members who are more specialised and more intimately knowledgeable of certain aspects of the company. As a result, leaders don’t see everything and are subject to blind spots.

A leader’s responsibility is to connect the details with the bigger picture. Because we are no longer the experts of a specific part of the company, we should be coaching our team members and empowering them to contribute to solving problems. We should encourage cross-departmental collaboration and make our team members excited to be part of the solution-seeking process. Instead of giving answers to our team members right away, we should be asking more questions. By allowing your team members to work through problems and grow from failure, we create a culture of critical thinking and solutions-driven individuals.


5 - Be open to trying new ideas and perspectives that are different


One of the main reasons why we would be closed off to new ideas and perspectives is because of the lack of understanding. When things are alien to us, we might become threatened and therefore, want to stick to what we know is already comfortable.

When leaders in an organisation are closed off to new ideas and experiences, everyone in the company suffers. Team members become compliant and stop sharing ideas. People are less engaged at work and stop being collaborative. As a result, companies will find themselves lagging in innovation.

Being open to new ideas and perspectives are ways we as leaders can suspend judgement in the workplace. It tells our team members that there is no one way of solving problems, a person with authority might not always have the best answers, and their thoughts and perspectives matter. As a result, we create a team of high-performing and productive teams that are engaged and healthy.


Bringing it all together


Suspending judgment is part of a leader’s job in creating healthy workplaces. It requires discipline and intention to make sure we don’t fall back on our biased ways of decision-making. We do this by acknowledging our own biases, committing to be better, being present, asking questions, and being open to trying new things. By practising these leadership skills, we create engaged teams that result in better and more innovative ways of solving problems. Truly, leaders play a critical role in suspending judgment in the workplace and creating healthy and vibrant workspaces.