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August 2021

A world without judgement

In coaching, one of the primary ways I support my clients is by offering a distinction, which is essentially just a reframing and alternate interpretation of a particular situation.

One common distinction is shifting to a perspective of curiosity without judgement. This is a concept in Buddhism known as tathātā (roughly translated as suchness or thusness or even is-ness).

For example, take asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs; was that good or bad? Compelling arguments can be made on both sides. On one hand, it caused a massive amount of suffering, death, and loss of biodiversity. But on the other, it created the space necessary for mammals to become the dominant species on the planet: a necessary step on the way to the evolution of humans.

A judgement-free perspective simply notes that this event did happen, and it did cause this chain of subsequent events. It is neither good nor bad. It just is.

Heather Lanier makes the point that good and bad are simple and incomplete stories that we tell ourselves in her TED talk, using the parable of the farmer who lost his horse.

See if you can shift your perspective next time from a place of good and bad to it just is.

(This goes hand-in-hand with the antimatter rule.)


Postel’s robustness principle applies to human interactions too (perhaps even more so)

There are a lot of similarities between computer networking and interpersonal communications.

I was reflecting on Postel’s robustness principle—Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send—and realized that the principle holds up equally well regarding interpersonal interactions.

In conversations with others (even just through body language), as long as one person can absorb negative input without returning it in kind (also known as noncomplementary behavior), that will prevent the conversation from going into a downward spiral. Of course if both can do it, all the better!


Positive, neutral, negative, none: the four types of conversation (or more generally, interpersonal interaction)

Ultimately life is all about our relationships: the ones with others of course, but also with ourselves.

Of course we all want to have positive interactions with others. But that's not always possible.

Some of us grow up in environments where there are too many negative interactions. Inter-generational trauma is passed down from parents to children. In situations like this, it's no wonder kids choose to disengage. They choose none over negative.