The buzz of an opinion

Everybody has something to say about something.

A popular morning routine is to wake up, check the news, have an opinion, and finally to wish someone were around to hear our opinion about whatever’s on the news.

So why not write the opinion down?

Once you start writing it down, you come to a question: is this an opinion, or a reaction? Is it me that feels this way, or is it my history of knee-jerk reactions to these words, images, and stories? Do I know what I’m talking about, or am I a babbling idiot?

Shouting our reactions to stories we’d rather not hear gives us a buzz as strong as caffeine. And like an extra shot of espresso, an audience for our reactions makes us feel alive, energized, and, especially, validated.

If it’s worth the trouble of writing down, it’s worth the trouble of reading.

But if you still feel the buzz of an opinion, you’re not writing. You’re shouting.

How to develop better judgment without knowing everything

Judgement is the skill of considering what’s relevant before making a decision. Relevant includes the known and unknown. How the customer could react matters as much as how they’ve been reacting.

Let’s say that you’ve conditioned a customer to trust you by delivering on your promises.

That’s the known.

But today, a new problem is frustrating the customer.

That’s the unknown.

Now your job to show the customer that they can still trust you, even with problems like this. Because this customer doesn’t know (yet) that they can trust you when it seems like a problem has no solution.

Judgement is about more than the Big Business decisions.

Judgement means giving this podcast guest extra time to think about the question.

Or letting this person speak without interrupting them.

Or empathizing with this client’s particular (and maybe annoying) needs.

Or understanding how to operate on this person’s overcrowded mouth.

How to develop better judgement?

Not by attending a seminar. Not by signing up for a class.

You develop better judgement first by accepting that you cannot know everything. Sending these firefighters into a burning building could cause something terrible. But the good captain is aware of the risks, and proceeds anyway.

And the 911 operator doesn’t ask the caller to backtrack. “Sorry, we can’t put out the fire because you’re not giving us every fact about your situation. Goodbye.”

Developed judgement comes through gained experience. Gained experience comes from exposure to all the relevant situations. And the only way to gain the experience necessary for making better judgments is to never settle for familiarity.

If you’re having a first consultation with a dentist, and they’re already familiar with the inside of your mouth, then I recommend you install a new home security system.

How to tell who has good judgment?

Seek out those who seem to be playing the archetypal fool. Seek out those who say, “I’m not sure.”

“I’m not sure” doesn’t mean “I’m not interested.”

If you stop listening after “I’m not sure,” then you’ll never hear the second half: “so I need to figure this out.”