Who, Me?… Not Open to Others’ Ideas?

By Linda Bodnar, Ph.D., PCC

It’s not uncommon for the leaders I am coaching to get feedback that they aren’t open to others’ views, ideas, perspectives, etc. It’s also not uncommon for those leaders to be surprised by this feedback and feel that they ARE open!

I was working with a leader recently who asked me to help him think this through and for some quotes to put up in his office to remind him, as well as the members of his team, to keep an open mind. Here are some of the quotes I shared:

  • “Choose curiosity over being right.” This is the breakthrough statement from the defensiveness index shared in the HBR article, “Coaching the Alpha Male.”
  • “If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.” Quote by Winston Churchill.
  • “Approach everything with a beginner’s mind.” Based on the concepts in a quote by Shunryu Suzuki from his book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice. The actual quote is, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
  • “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”This quote is attributed to Epictetus, a Greek philosopher who spent his youth as a slave in Rome before gaining freedom after the death of Nero, under whom he served.There is an alternate form of this saying that I have heard over the years, “We have two eyes and two ears but only one mouth – use them accordingly.”
  • “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” Quote by Isaac Asimov, who was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science.
  • “When we are closed to ideas, what we hear is criticism. When we are open to criticism, what we get is advice.”Simon Sinek, a British-American author and inspirational speaker, from his book, Together is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration.

Which of the above might help you shift your mindset to be more open to others’ views? How can you best put that into practice?

To learn more about openness, listening, mindset, and other transformative leadership skills, schedule a consultation with Linda.