One of the key traits of successful people is having a growth mindset.
Lots has been written about the importance of having a growth mindset and maybe I’ll write something more about it in the future.
But not today.
I find that so many times it is just as useful to learn what something is not, in order to better understand what that something is.
So I thought today it would be useful to talk about closed-mindedness.
Because if there’s something that’s a close antonym or opposite phrase to growth mindset, it would be closed-mindedness.
The 7 signs of closed-mindedness
This is the funny part.
The ironic thing is a closed-minded person won’t be able to tell whether or not they are closed-minded in the first place.
This is because their mind is most likely going to be closed to that possibility altogether.
Even if the feedback comes from other people who may mean well and tell them, there’s a high chance they won’t even entertain the possibility. In fact, chances are they will get offended/defensive.
So maybe in a moment of honest self-reflection, the closed-minded person may wish to to assess himself by looking at the following checklist which was originally inspired by Ray Dalio’s Principles.
#1 Closed-minded people don’t want their ideas challenged
They see disagreement with their point of view a threat.
According to Ray Dalio:
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. They feel bad about getting something wrong and are more interested in being proven right than in asking questions and learning others’ perspectives.
If you look into the root cause of this. It is a form of insecurity.
In contrast, open-minded people are more interested as to why there is a disagreement to begin with. They always entertain the possibility they have missed something and they may be wrong. If you think about it, this is a form of humility – the ability to accept you could be wrong and stand corrected.
#2 Closed-minded people are more likely to make statements than ask questions
Especially definitive statements.
Bonus points if you make said statements with gusto, bravado and blistering confidence 😉
I say this because I’ve found over the years, there exists a particularly dangerous combination: the confident closed-minded person.
I say dangerous because these kinds of people end up misleading lots of other people.
Because they seem so confident in what they are saying, (with little or no regard to actual facts) at first with meeting with other people, the other person may be taken in and actually believe what they are saying.
This will inevitably lead to confusion when the other person finds out the real facts. Because in their mind they were convinced that what the closed-minded person said was correct because he said it so definitely and seemed so confident while saying it.
#3 Closed-minded people focus much more on being understood than on understanding others
Now this is one I can identify with quite closely as I’ve seen this many times.
We all have that one friend or family member who always complains that other people do not understand them and nobody ever listens to them when in fact they do most of the talking all the time.
As Dalio puts it:
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.
This is narrow mindedness at best and a form of selfishness at worst. Selfishness because you are only considering your own needs (in this case your need to be understood or listened to) above other peoples’ equivalent needs.
#4 Closed-minded people say things like “I could be wrong . . . but here’s my opinion
This one is an interesting one which I hadn’t personally noticed until I read Principles.
Closed-minded people say things like “I could be wrong . . . but here’s my opinion.” This is a classic cue I hear all the time. It’s often a perfunctory gesture that 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.
So this is a form of self-deception. You are trying to lie to yourself by convincing yourself you are so open-minded when in actual fact you are not.
A classic case of saying one thing but meaning another.
This is one to look out for and be careful of since it’s so subtle and you may not even notice it.
Besides, people lie to themselves all the time.
#5 Closed-minded people block others from speaking
You know the kind right? We’ve all spoken to someone like this.
A person who will keep talking and talking and monopolize the entire conversation and not give others a moment to talk.
The only way to get a word in is to wait for them to pause to breathe and then you jump in!
To get around this Ray Dalio recommends implementing a two-minute rule in meetings. No one is allowed to talk more than two-minutes at a time!
Whereas open-minded people are much more interested in listening instead of speaking because they know it is only when listening are they learning. Hence you will find open-minded people often encouraging others to speak more.
#6 Closed-minded people have trouble holding two thoughts simultaneously in their head
Closed-minded people tend to view the world as either black or white. Yes or no. True or false.
They have a binary view of the world and find it hard to entertain anything in between.
But reality as we know isn’t that simple and there’s often infinite shades of nuance in between.
This is why whenever they have one thought, it becomes fixed in their mind. They cannot entertain another thought because it threatens their view of the world.
In contrast see how Ray Dalio explains what open-minded people do in this situation:
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.
#7 Closed-minded people lack a deep sense of humility
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.
On the other hand, open-minded people approach everything with a deep-seated fear that they may be wrong.
No matter how you look at this. Closed-mindedness is fundamentally a form of ego in that you are placing your knowledge and beliefs always above that of others’.
Action points/notes to self
- Consciously get into the habit of practicing open-mindedness at all times. No one can be an expert at everything and the moment I think I know it all is the moment I’m in trouble. I believe the Ancient Greeks invented a word for this called hubris.
- Look out for the 7 signs above. Some of them are very subtle so I might not even realize it. Do my best to catch these blind spots.
- Always be humble and keep this attitude with me for the rest of my life and I will do well.
Let’s be honest, would you say you are open or closed-minded?
How many of the 7 signs did you feel applied to you?
Do you think Ray Dalio missed any other signs?
Would love to hear your input so please leave a message in the comments.
Until next time.
Tony Lee Jacobs
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