We all have this private, almost special voice that is called the ‘inner judge’. It disrupts conversations; and it tells us to keep comparing ourselves to others, to judge ideas and behaviors as good and bad, or right and wrong. In short, this voice likes to find fault with ideas, people, and organizations. It wants the focus to be on it; and it sounds like ‘I am so great, listen to ME, and hear ME!’ Sometimes it sounds like this ‘They don’t get it! What do they even know about?’ It robs us and others of the possibilities to solve problems creatively, together. When this voice takes center stage, respect for others goes into the wings and out of sight.

The Inner Judge is the programmer that tells our brains what is ‘real’ and ‘true’ and speaks in ways that are quick- to -offer judgments about ourselves and others. The problem is that the “IJ” as I like to call it, may not be helping us to achieve our goals. In fact, it wastes our energy as we interrupt others, place blame, name call, and shut down creative options before they are even fully expressed.  How can we be respectful in the workplace when the ‘IJ’ works to steal the show? Showing respect to others is easy; it simply requires asking the “IJ” to step back and be silent so that we can be fully present to really see and hear others, to learn what matters most to others, and then, and only then, can we generate a sense of shared responsibility to creatively solve problems and work respectfully, exploring what is possible.

We must learn to temper that inner voice so that we can offer our full presence, in respect of others. This requires we commit to the following actions on a daily basis:

  • Become an observer.  Notice your conversations and begin to recognize when your ‘IJ’ is engaged and responding to its messages.
  • Be Thankful. Your ‘IJ’ is offering a perspective; it may be right, it may be wrong. When you hear its voice, just listen, take note, and consider it as information; and say ‘thank you’ rather than accepting the information as truth.
  • Allow People Time to Speak. Listen with ears to learn and understand what matters most to others. Being heard, really listened to, is a rare experience in our fast-paced world. We seek to control the conversations and demonstrate how good, strong and smart we are.

What if we just stepped back, listened more, and talked less, allowing the voice of respect to take center stage?