Day 11 of 14 - The concept of open-mindedness...

"Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in." - Alan Alda (1980)


This is #11.

When you read the news these days you might find a lot of articles interesting and agreeable, but also ones that you can't agree with or that might even make you angry. When I read something I don't agree with a lot of thoughts and arguments arise inside of my head and I try to find the comment section to tell the author how wrong he is... However, after about 15 to 20 seconds my anger usually disappears and concludes in me either telling myself "man, this is stupid, why bother" or "hey, maybe he's not that wrong after all, try to be open-minded..."


I want to share with you some passages from the book "Principles" by Ray Dalio on the topic of discovering signs of closed-mindedness and the practice of being more open towards other opinions and ideas. The passages are taken from the principles 3.1 to 3.6 of his book. I didn't change much since I found them worth sharing just the way they are.


The first and most important step is to become more self-aware of your own closed-mindedness:


A. sincerely believe that you might not know the best possible path - recognize that your ability of dealing with "not knowing" is very important

Closed-minded people don’t want their ideas challenged. They are typically frustrated that they can’t get the other person to agree with them instead of curious as to why the other person disagrees.


Open-minded people are more curious about why there is disagreement. They are not angry when someone disagrees. They understand that there is always the possibility that they might be wrong and that it’s worth the little bit of time it takes to consider the other person’s views in order to be sure they aren’t missing something or making a mistake.


B. recognize that decision making is a two step process - take in all the relevant information first, then decide

Closed-minded people are more likely to make statements than ask questions. While believability entitles you to make statements in certain circumstances, truly open-minded people, even the most believable people I know, always ask a lot of questions. Non-believable people often say that their statements are actually implicit questions, though they’re phrased as low-confidence statements. While that’s sometimes true, in my experience it’s more often not.


Open-minded people genuinely believe they could be wrong, the questions that they ask are genuine. They also assess their relative believability to determine whether their primary role should be as a student, a teacher, or a peer.


C. don't worry about looking good - worry about achieving your goal - there's a common view that is actually quite wrong, so don't fall for it: "great people have all the answers and don't have any weaknesses."

Closed-minded people lack a deep sense of humility. Humility typically comes from an experience of crashing, which leads to an enlightened focus on knowing what one doesn’t know.


Open-minded people approach everything with a deep-seated fear that they may be wrong. Once you can sort out open-minded from closed-minded people, you’ll find that you want to surround yourself with open-minded ones. Doing so will not only make your decision making more effective but you’ll also learn a tremendous amount. A few good decision makers working effectively together can significantly outperform a good decision maker working alone - and even the best decision maker can significantly improve his or her decision making with the help of other excellent decision makers.


D. realize that you cant put out without taking in - being productive can be the primary goal but it won't be good unless you're willing to take in, in other words: learn first

Closed-minded people block others from speaking. If it seems like someone isn’t leaving space for the other person in a conversation, it’s possible they are blocking. To get around blocking, enforce the “two-minute rule”: allow each party to make uninterrupted statements for two minutes to prevent one of the parties from talking too much while others can't say anything.


Open-minded people are always more interested in listening than in speaking; they encourage others to voice their views.


E. recognize that to gain the perspective that comes from seeing things through an other's eyes you must suspend judgement for a time - emphasize, evaluate another point of view - open mindedness means considering the reasoning of others instead of stubbornly holding on to your own point of view

Closed-minded people have trouble holding two thoughts simultaneously in their minds. They allow their own view to crowd out those of others. They also focus much more on being understood than on understanding others. When people disagree, they tend to be quicker to assume that they aren’t being understood than to consider whether they’re the ones who are not understanding the other person’s perspective.

Open-minded people can take in the thoughts of others without losing their ability to think well - they can hold two or more conflicting concepts in their mind and go back and forth between them to assess their relative merits. Always feel compelled to see things through others’ eyes.


F. remember that you're looking for the best answer, not simply the best one you can come up with yourself - it's invaluable to know what you don't know

Closed-minded people say things like “I could be wrong... but here’s my opinion.” It allows people to hold their own opinion while convincing themselves that they are being open-minded. If your statement starts with “I could be wrong...” or “I’m not believable...” you should probably follow it with a question and not an assertion.

Open-minded people know when to make statements and when to ask questions.


It is important to understand whether you are arguing or seeking to understand and think about which is more appropriate based on your and other's believability - if both parties are peers it is OK to argue, if one party is clearly more knowledgeable than the other it is preferable for the less knowledgeable person to approach the more knowledgeable one as a student.


And finally, develop the art of thoughtful disagreement - in thoughtful disagreement your goal is not to convince the other party that you're right, it is the art of finding out what is true and be thoughtful about it. Disagreements aren't threats, they are opportunities for learning.

Here's a link to Ray Dalio's book "Principles" (Amazon Affiliate Link: https://amzn.to/2X41caM)



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