The communication barrier of prejudging and filtering is created when we view (and judge) things a lens colored by our beliefs, our values, our opinions and our shadows. We'll call this our point of view.
We adopt a point of view and then become attached to it, finding evidence and facts to support it. We filter what people say through our point of view.
Take for example, the time I told a friend of mine, a senior manager in the public sector, that he was very kind when I saw how he helped a politician stay out of trouble on a consistent basis.
My friend, I felt, did not condemn the politician, did not let him sink, he just helped him. To my surprise, my friend didn't like what I said, he didn't like being told he was kind as he happened to believe that “nice guys finish last”. So he took what I said negatively, even though I had the best of intentions.
In a similar story, an executive I know who dislikes arrogant people, recently attended a seminar where she thought the instructor was very arrogant. She did not learn a whole lot because she was distracted by the instructor's perceived arrogance. In the end, because her filters were too strong she could not get the essence of the lecture.
When she came back from the seminar, all she could talk about was how pedantic and full of himself the instructor was. She dismissed much of the information that she got, saying she probably knew more than the guy teaching the seminar. "The nerve he had, to be giving lectures in a condescending way when he didn't even know what he was talking about," she said.
While it's possible that the professor was indeed extremely arrogant, it's also possible that the instructor triggered some filter that prevented her from paying attention to his message and, as a consequence, failed to receive anything of value from his lecture.
Pick an hour of time to stop passing judgment on anything and everything around you. Observe and listen to what's happening without evaluating it at all. When you look at a flower, don't judge its beauty, or lack thereof. Just observe. When you listen to someone talk, don't judge what they are saying. Just listen.
You may find that you start congratulating or berating yourself on how well you're doing the exercise. Just notice that you are judging yourself, no need to do anything about it. The point of the exercise is to be aware of how often you judge.
You may also want to try doing a few of the recommended mindfulness exercises. They can be helpful in dealing with the prejudging and filtering communication barrier and others barriers.
By becoming aware of how you prejudge and filter everything that you perceive, you can learn to switch the filters off at will.
Keep in mind that we use filters even when we look at ourselves. If there is a particular quality we don't like, we may not even see that we have it. Getting rid of filters will allow you to know and accept who you truly are, with your lights and your shadows.
Related article: Overcoming Communication Barriers