Observation without Judgment javier carrion

Are you observing or judging?

Observation is when we become aware of something, we became aware of it as a fact. It is the neutral act of tacking in information upon which we base our opinion.

Judgements are those opinions we form from the observation. When judging we are rendering an opinion regarding the relative value of what is being observed.

We tend to judge every situation

Here are some examples:

He has long hair – observation

His hair is too long or His hair needs to be cut – judgments

The table is black – observation

The table is ugly – judgement

She is very skilled – observation, if based on truly observing the skills being discussed

She is better than I am – judgement, unless there is factual measurement on some criteria that all agree defines better

Observation v Judgement for Lawyers

For the legal profession, judgments made upon clients can, even unconsciously, have an impact on the way cases are handled. An in the event of creating a negative judgment upon an individual, that judgment can get reflected from our impressions and body language when brought up to court. Therefore, showing the judge or jury our negative opinion about the client. It can be important in some occasions to be able to observe and act upon a situation without making judgments.


I remember years ago a client, who I had never met before and who did not had an appointment, showing up to my office. Due to his insistence, and even though I was quite busy at the moment, I agree to see him. The man, looking unkempt, told me about how the previous night he had run over someone with his car and, scared and maybe a having drunk a few more glasses of wine than he should have, run away from the scene.

He was desperate and I did not know what to do.

Astonished, I looked at him, and many ideas were passing bu throughout my mind about the person that was in front of me, my thoughts were quite though with him at that time. During that time I was putting myself in the feet of the one who was hit by the car and of his family, I felt really uncomfortable in front of that man.

I was judging the client…

Nevertheless, little by little, I got over that first impression and, being really patient, we got the facts straight. We got into my car and went to the place where the accident occurred. No evidence of it. From there we went to the closest Police Station and informed the authorities of the possible accident. However, during the following days the police force ended its investigation by concluding that the car had impacted with a big wild pig. Therefore no human life was involved on the accident.

Once we got over the situation the client told me about his critical personal situation, he was going through a very difficult stage of his life, what was making him to drive for hours without destiny.

From that situation I learned that lawyers are not supposed to judge our clients since we do not know what is going on in their personal life. We usually only get to know then once a problematic event has occurred in their lives on a concrete situation. Therefore, if a client decides to come into our office and tell us about a difficult event or situation, the lawyer must be conscious that the client has probably taken a lot of courage in order to come to us and trust us with their problems. And just because of that, they deserve us listening to their problems and observing the situation without producing any kind of judgment.

The reason why is very simple: lawyers are here to help, no to judge, and every help requires to be able to know the facts objectively, keeping ourselves away of any kind of subjectivism. That can only be reached by being able to act and observe without judging.


Created with images by succo - "hammer court judge" • qimono - "philatelist stamp collection stamp"

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