Want to be less judgmental? Then realize “thinking positively” is as judgmental as “thinking negatively.”

November 7, 2013 by Joshua
in Blog, Entrepreneurship

There’s no getting around that deciding if something is positive or negative means judging it. If you want to avoid judging, thinking positively undermines your goals.

If you can’t think of an alternative, you’ll conclude thinking positively is your best option because it’s your only option. But that conclusion just indicates sloppy or incomplete thinking. Sloppy thinking like that reminds me of some criticism someone gave me when I was learning to present my company for funding. When asked why someone should pick our technology over a competitor’s, I said “Because it’s better.”

The guy helping me stopped me and said

Never tell me your technology is better. Tell me it’s faster, cheaper, stronger, more durable, or whatever. But don’t call it better. Everyone says that. It means nothing.

When you speak sloppy, people ignore you. Speaking sloppy means you probably think sloppy. Sloppy thinking and behavior don’t improve your life. What he said stuck with me and helped improve my ability to influence others effectively.

Likewise, saying you’re thinking positively means little. You’re using emotions to evaluate your thoughts. Say what emotions you feel and you’ll understand yourself more accurately. So say you’re feeling happy, content, calm, satisfied, joy, and so on, but don’t call them positive.

Calling emotions positive calls others negative, which will lead you to deny feeling them. Denial is the opposite of self-awareness.

People don’t like hearing you judge them. Calling some thoughts or feelings positive necessarily calls others negative. You can’t judge one way without judging the other at the same time — exactly what you’re trying to avoid.

You have an alternative: describe emotions you’re feeling. You’ll increase your self-awareness and decrease your judgment. So instead of saying you’re thinking positive, say you feel happy, content, satisfied, calm, or whatever.

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