Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Judgment, Curiosity and Anger Management

One of the concepts we teach in our model of anger management is to learn to not pass judgment so quickly and become more curious. While judgment tends to lead us in only one direction with one conclusion, curiosity opens up all different possibilities for the potential outcome or reason for why something happened or why a person behaved a certain way.

This concept is borrowed from Narrative Therapy pioneer Michael White, but has dramatic uses for anger management. This concept will help better manage expectations as well as come to conclusions that are based on good reasoning rather than a hasty judgments.

Judgments are usually made when we are either misinformed by others or we have a belief about something or someone that is not based on facts, but guided by emotions or irrational thoughts. When we pass judgment, it can often have damaging effects on the recipient as well as the relationship. Things are not always as they appear to seem, and a hasty judgment can ruin a potentially good situation or outcome.

Curiosity on the other hand, opens up many possibilities for why something or someone behaved. When we are more curious and ask questions of curiosity, we are often surprised by the answers. This surprise or change in thinking can often lead to an improved view and a more fact based, realistic interpretation. Curiosity opens up unlimited possibilities for unique outcomes.

Why make a judgment before learning more about that person or their behavior? This judgment is part of a reflex response. We simply get in the habit of passing judgment too quickly or hear bad information and believe it to be true and pass the same judgment before attempting to learn more on our own.

So, give it a try next time you find yourself passing judgment on someone. Ask them some questions about why they did what they did or how they came to the conclusion they did. You might actually learn something unique and different that would otherwise contradict your initial judgment. This will not only reduce your anger, but it will also deepen your relationship.

Ari Novick, Ph.D.
Dr. Novick is the founder of the AJ Novick Group.
For information on his anger management classes, workshops and coaching visit www.ajnovickgroup.com