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How do you identify Open-minded vs Closed-minded people?

In one of my first posts, I wrote about the Agile Mindset, and the difference between 'doing' and 'being' agile.

Being agile requires an open mindset, as opposed to having a closed mindset.
People who have an open mindset tend to do better in their professional and personal lives.

Image credit:
Image credit:

How do you identify which mindset you, or others are operating with?

In his book Principles, Ray Dalio lays out 8 ways to tell the difference between having an open or a closed mindset:

  1. How do you respond to anomalies? Closed-minded people tend to ignore or gloss over anomalies. Open-minded people want to dive in and understand. Of course, diving in is hard as it may require you to discard your ideas and beliefs.

  2. Challenging ideas. Open-minded people find learning in everything. They see disagreement as a thoughtful means to expand their knowledge. They don’t get angry or upset at questions; rather, they want to identify where the disagreement lies so they can correct their misperceptions. They realise that being right means changing their minds when someone else knows something they don’t.

  3. Statements vs. Questions. Closed-minded people are more likely to make statements than ask questions. Open-minded individuals are curious as to how people see things differently and they weigh their opinions accordingly.

  4. Understanding. Closed-minded people focus much more on being understood than on understanding others. When you disagree with an open-minded person, they are quick to assume that they might not understand something and to ask you to tell them where their understanding is incomplete.

  5. I Might Be Wrong, But… Closed-minded people say things like “I could be wrong … but here’s my opinion.” It’s often a careless 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”…, 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.

  6. Just Shut Up. Closed-minded people don’t have time to rehash something already talked about. They don’t want to hear anyone’s voice but their own. Open-minded people are always more interested in listening than in speaking.

  7. Only One Sperm Gets In. Bear with me... This is based on a quote by Charlie Munger: “The human mind is a lot like the human egg, and the human egg has a shut-off device. When one sperm gets in, it shuts down so the next one can’t get in.” 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.

  8. Humble Pie. Closed-minded people lack a deep sense of humility. Where does one get humility? Usually, from failure—an experience so terrible they don’t want to repeat it. Open-minded people approach everything with a deep-seated fear that they may be wrong.

Recognise some of these closed-minded behaviours in yourself? Don't worry too much. We all operate on this continuously changing sliding scale between open- and closed-mindedness. We're only human!

Being open-minded requires a lot of work and it doesn’t happen by accident.

If you realise your closed mindedness in a situation, acknowledge it is happening, and try and reflect on what is driving this. See it as an opportunity to learn.

An Open mindset is also known as a Growth mindset. This short video explains it nicely.

I highly recommend the subscribing to Farnam Street’s weekly newsletter, which is where I found the inspiration to this post. You can do so here. This post is based on this original article.


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