Capability Insights Consulting



On Trust, Opinions and Being Judgemental

Posted on July 19, 2014 at 3:25 PM

There is interesting work being done to study trust and what makes us trustworthy as leaders, as employees and team mates.


Different groups break it down into various components. The components that resonate with me are:

- credibility

- competence

- integrity

- passion


Credibility and competence seem very linked. If I know what I'm doing, and do it well, and do it when I say I'm going to do it, others can begin to trust me. To sustain the trust that others have in me, I must be honest, must be and be seen to be true to what I've said and be consistent in my behaviour. For me to maintain credibility, competence and integrity, I must care about what I'm doing. Having passion for something makes trustworthy behaviour internally sustainable.


One trust model I've recently reviewed touches on the need for me to have a point of view on something in order for others to begin to trust my actions. Those actions will then be in the context of something vs. seemingly random - thereby building integrity.


I am a firm believer in having a point of view, an opinion. Wishy washy people make me want to run in the opposite direction! Too often, though, when we hold a point of view that is different from others we are called judgemental. And in our current society, judgemental seems always be a bad thing. I find this very disturbing.


For me to judge something means I have looked at and considered the available information, looked at and considered the sources of the information, considered how all this information fits (or not) into my current knowledge and then developed a point of view. In short, I now have an opinion. For me to have passion about something, I have to care enough about it to have an opinion! And I must integrate that opinion into the rest of my opinions in order to behave consistently.


Check out various dictionary definitions of judgemental as not all definitions are negative. Having a propensity to pass judgement should be a critical attribute of a leader. Think of judges. Our legal system holds the ability to pass judgement as foundational.


Worse, slapping the negative "judgemental" label on someone ends the conversation before it can even get started. Want to break someone's trust in you? Toss out a negative label!


So, instead of using the word judgemental in a negative way, and before accusing someone of being judgemental perhaps we need to think about our own reactions.

- Do I think the person has rushed to judgement, meaning that they do not have all the information needed to form a point of view and have an opinion?

- Do I have concerns about the sources of information that has led them to their current point of view?

- Do I think their consideration and analysis of the information is flawed in some way? Do I believe they have made an error in judgement?

- Do I simply hold a different opinion? What does it mean to me that I find someone else's different opinion distasteful or frightening?

- Do I not trust this person so assume they are being negatively judgemental?


When I understand my reaction I can avoid labels and explore the situation further. I leave open the opportunity for better understanding. I leave open the possibility that even if we end up disagreeing, we can still trust each other.


There is much more to explore around trust and leadership. For now I'm making a commitment to be thoughtful and diligent in forming my points of view and in checking my reactions if I'm tempted to label someone as judgemental. 






Categories: leadership, communication

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1 Comment

Reply VirgilFek
9:34 AM on July 29, 2017