Thursday, March 06, 2014

Useful Skills: Being Wrong and Changing Your Mind

Seth Godin has a wonderful piece out on changing your mind. I think one of life's ultimate skills is being able to put yourself in another's shoes and truly consider their point of view. At its core, that means being willing to be wrong and being willing to change your mind.

To that end, here are two of my favorite insights on changing your mind:

(1) Alan Alda's advice on listening:

Real listening is letting other people change you.

Before you start that great debate on topic X, ask yourself if you'd ever change your mind on it. If not, then skip the argument. You won't truly be listening to the other person.

(2) Kathryn Shulz's TED Talk. I recall hearing this TED talk randomly in the car, and she posed a seemingly obvious question to her audience: "How does it feel to be wrong?" I played along, and thought to myself: "embarrassing, annoying and disorienting."

After a moment, Katheryn responds to the audience, and to me, that we were actually answering the wrong question. We were answering: "how does it feel to realize your wrong." But actually being wrong, as she points out, "that doesn't feel like anything."

Whoa. Mind. Blown.

She's right, right? There's no internal check for rightness. The best check, as far as I can tell, is to be wary of what you believe.

That of course, doesn't mean you can't have closely held beliefs. In fact, it's quite the opposite. To hold beliefs that have been challenged is far more valuable than unquestionably clinging to a set of principles.

Here's Kathryn's TED talk. It's definitely worth watching:

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