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The Power Of Withholding Judgement

One of the first principles I learned at "Coach School" was the importance of being non-judgemental.

This is a difficult skill to master. It's our natural tendency, when meeting people and discovering things about them, to build a story around how they came to be and then to form our own opinion about it. And there are a number of problems with this.

Here are a couple:

Firstly, the stories that we build are at best incomplete, and at worst can be completely inaccurate. We make assumptions that can be way off the mark (e.g. that guy's not smiling so he must be a grumpy so-and-so).

And secondly, once we have formed our opinion, we tend to close off and it's difficult to change that story (remember 'first impressions last'?)

So, refraining from building a story in our head, forming an opinion and judging people on first look, allows us to remain open, ask good questions and LISTEN to the answers. And so we discover more relevant information, and find the real story.

And as a coach, we still don't judge, because we still don't know what else is there to discover.

Being non-judgemental makes you very easy to talk to, it's amazing how easily people will open up to you in unexpected situations. It's enabled me to find out so much more about the people around me, and help me appreciate them so much more.

So, next time you meet someone, give it a try. Withhold judgement, ask questions, listen to the answers and see what happens!

[This article first appeared on LinkedIn in 2017]


Neil Gabbie is an executive and leadership coach who works primarily with finance professionals who have become frustrated with their careers and know they have so much more to give.

He is active as NG_Leadership on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn, where he posts videos every week.

You can get in touch via his website at, on email or phone 087 3800 454.

Neil is also the curator of this blog for EMCC Ireland. Send your submissions to

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