Life Coach Magazine

Stay Curious, Not Accusatory

By Kayla @kaymars

A young boy struggles to keep his mask over his nose. Sometimes he outright refuses to wear it at all and has to sit in the hallway, ousted from his learning community.

A teacher shows up at my office door, red-faced and practically spitting, asking why I would dare pull a student from his classroom during a movie.

A parent demands a formal plan for her young child prior to the next school year, and expects others to drop what they’re doing to create it. Right. Now.

Take any of the above examples and you could easily draw conclusions about what is going on for that person. It’s so easy to judge others.

I have found myself the last few years really stopping myself prior to making a judgment to ask, why? To wonder about the reasons behind the behavior and the emotions underneath the actions. I think many school counselors naturally do this, and our training certainly primes us to look deeper, but this last year in particular, I have made it into a habit.

Emotions have run high as education has been dictated by public health officials and policy makers in more explicit ways for over a year. Routines that we used to rely on all but vanished, foreign ideas became the norm, and we had to adjust constantly. It. Was. Stressful.

And stress responses were plentiful! Differing views on hybrid learning, masking, distancing, quarantining, testing, and vaccines were abound. Mix in regular doses of fear, and BOOM.

Stay curious.

Instead of drawing our own conclusions, what if we responded with a simple “I wonder…?”

“I wonder if this person has unmet needs?”

“I wonder if this person is fearful of something?”

“I wonder what this person hopes to get out of this?”

I’m telling you, I have seen it change the course of conversations. It’s a subtle shift from judgment (what we think we already know) to curiosity (what we still need to find out). It’s a move from being stuck in our stagnant position to opening the door and actually walking through it.

With curiosity, we can begin to look deeper, to find answers, and to solve problems instead of only pointing them out.

And finally, when I encounter a person or situation that is hard to understand, even with high levels of curiosity, I remind myself that our world spins on anyway. It takes all kinds of kinds.

Stay curious, not accusatory

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