The only way humanity is going to make any headway is if we all can recognize the need to be radically open-minded, and if still at odds after being open-minded, to thoughtfully and respectfully disagree.
Being closed-minded could be the single worst trait you could possibly have, as it will shut you off from dozens of choices, opportunities, experiences, ideas, people, and hell, even food, that you otherwise would never have known.
Here are a few cues to honestly assess whether or not you are closed minded:
• Closed-minded people don’t want their ideas challenged.
• Closed-minded people are more likely to make statements than to ask questions.
• Closed-minded people focus MUCH more on being understood than trying to understand others.
• Closed-minded people block others from speaking.
• Closed-minded people lack a deep sense of humility.
On the contrary, if you’re really going to try to be open-minded, here’s what you have to do:
• Open-minded people are truly curious about why there may be a disagreement, and are not angry just because someone else doesn’t agree with them. They understand deeply that the other individual (or group, or race, or whatever) has a history that has shaped their belief structure and that to them it is absolutely reasonable.
• Open-minded people genuinely accept and believe they could be wrong, and the questions they ask are genuinely trying to understand. They aren’t asking questions for a confirmation of their righteousness.
• Open-minded people always feel compelled to see things through others’ eyes.
• Open-minded people encourage other people to share their views, especially if they are different than their own.
• Open-minded people acknowledge that in opposing discussions that there is a very real chance that they are wrong, and would rather hash out a conversation and discover they are wrong than to live ignorant.
I’ve been absolutely average at being open-minded throughout my life, but I can take comfort knowing that I am constantly working on it and that just by considering the fact that I could be closed-minded is a pretty open-minded trait. Let’s all work on it together.
This little note was inspired by today’s reading in Principles by Ray Dalio.