Understanding Others Non-Judgmentally

Part of personal (and even spiritual) growth is learning how to understand people, how to see things from a perspective that you never would’ve looked through before, or how to put yourself in a drastically different person’s place (taking into account their personal history, and events in their life).  I think if we’re attune to it, we can continue to grow in this way of being more and more capable of understanding others, but it certainly doesn’t come easily or even naturally to most of us.

We see life through our own lenses – and even though it may be a stretch to imagine, our own lenses are often clouded with certain judgments we’ve taken to be true over the entire course of our lives.  So in trying to understand another person, it can be incredibly difficult depending on your differences in character, life experiences, religions, politics, or anything else that helps to define a person into who they are today.

Most of us are only worried about getting our own ideas across – ideas for fixing problems, things we believe are true, etc. to even conceive of trying to understand the other person (or group’s) position.  I love Stephen Covey’s book that covers this topic, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, where he explains that you have to “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Seeking to understand implies that one is desiring, hunting, and searchingfor the perspective of another person – when done correctly, it’s definitely not a passive objective.


It requires a lot of time and energy, and the reason why I believe this is also part of a person’s spiritual growth is because, as Covey points out, to seek to first understand another person requires a large amount of consideration of your behalf.  Thinking of another carefully, taking the time out of your schedule or busy life to consider another’s feelings, is all part of personal or spiritual growth because it is a form of selfless love – the very opposite of selfishness.  Yet if we ever want to develop really strong, long-lasting friendships and relationships, we must be able to seek first to understand others.

Seeking to understand another doesn’t mean instant harmony or even agreement, however, it opens the door for non-judgmental discussion and dialogue.

“Because you really listen, you become influenceable.  And being influenceable is the key to influencing others.”

“And watch what happens to you.  The more deeply you understand other people, the more you will appreciate them, the more reverent you will feel about them.

To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.”


(Quotes from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, 1989)

Why Gossip Backfires

“Personal integrity generates trust….  Lack of integrity can undermine almost any other effort to create high trust accounts.  People can seek to understand, remember the little things, keep their promises, clarify and fulfill expectations, and still fail to build reserves of trust if they are inwardly duplicitous.

“Integrity includes but goes beyond honesty.  Honesty is telling the truth – in other words, conforming our words to reality.  Integrity is conforming reality to our words….  keeping promises and fulfilling expectations….

“One of the most important ways to manifest integrity is to be loyal to those who are not present.  In doing so, we build the trust of those who are present.  When you defend those who are absent, you retain the trust of those present.  …

“(when you gossip) You may get the golden egg of temporary pleasure from putting someone down or sharing privileged information, but you’re strangling the goose, weakening the relationship that provides enduring pleasure in association.”

Confrontation takes considerable courage, and many people would prefer to take the course of least resistance, belittling and criticizing, betraying confidences, or participating in gossip about others behind their backs.  But in the long run, people will trust and respect you if you are honest and open and kind with them.”

Not everyone will appreciate someone who refuses to participate in gossip or cruel jokes of others – in fact, I’ve encountered a few people in life who mandate that their friends act this way, and will make you out to be an Enemy if you disapprove of their behavior!  🙂  But what does that matter?  People who have this weakness in character are never truly happy anyway, and it is much better to be friends with those who you know would never stab you in the back.

In the work environment, it is devastating to your reputation to display this kind of behavior… associates or your employees will never fully trust you, and you risk losing their loyalty – and in business, loyalty is everything.

It is MUCH better to have integrity and keep people around you who you trust and who trust you – keep those few people close, don’t let them go.  They are treasures in this life… true gems.


(quotes from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)

“Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality.  They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there.  And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else.  The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life.

 People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit — even with those who help in the production.  They also have a very hard time being genuinely happy for the successes of other people — even, and sometimes especially, members of their own family or close friends and associates.  It’s almost as if something is being taken from them when someone else receives special recognition or windfall gain or has remarkable success or achievement.

 Although they might verbally express happiness for others’ success, inwardly they are eating their hearts out.  Their sense of worth comes from being compared, and someone else’s success, to some degree, means their failure.  Only so many people can be “A” students; only one person can be “number one.”  To “win” simply means to “beat.”

 Often, people with a Scarcity Mentality harbor secret hopes that others might suffer misfortune — not terrible misfortune, but acceptable misfortune that would keep them “in their place.”  They’re always comparing, always competing.  They give their energies to possessing things or other people in order to increase their sense of worth.

 They want other people to be the way they want them to be.  They often want to clone them, and they surround themselves with “yes” people — people who won’t challenge them, people who are weaker than they.

It’s difficult for people with a Scarcity Mentality to be members of a complementary team.  They look on differences as signs of insubordination and disloyalty.” -Covey

It’s by far, much better obviously, to not acquire this kind of way of thinking and acting.  There is plenty enough out there for everyone to achieve their own kind of success.  And sometimes, success doesn’t always mean what you’d think it has to mean – success doesn’t necessarily mean getting a lot of money, looking the best, gaining the most power or influence.  Success – real success – is in how great your life is.  How great YOU make it to be.  Working hard, being fair to others, being a good friend, being good to your family – being happy has a lot to do with the way that you live your life. 

Make sure that what you think is success, really and truly is.