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The Opinion Pause: Using Humility and Curiosity to Think More Critically

TIGNUM Thoughts

November 13th, 2021

Insights from the author

By Scott Peltin

In today’s highly connected world, it is easy to quickly share your opinions. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter - all designed for the rapid viral spread of information. We could fill books with the reputation damage one flippant response to the wrong person at the wrong time can make, but let’s focus on the impact it has on your ability to be mentally agile, resilient, energized, and a multiplier of energy.

When you reflexively form and share an opinion, you rely 100% on a bias that you have previously created based on a multitude of historic contributing factors. By doing this, you are destroying the Performance Mindset skills of challenging your biases, having a growth mindset, being open-minded, and being curious. You are robbing your brain of the opportunity to ask more questions and to do more research to update your thinking with the latest knowledge. You are building the walls around your “fixed” mindset, which reduces the expansion of your “growth” mindset.

As we have discussed many times, curiosity is the Performance Mindset skill that leads to openness, growth, new knowledge, innovation, and meaningful relationships. By asking great questions, you create a pause that allows you to learn and challenge what you may think you already know.

Similarly, when you quickly form an opinion and openly share it, you are diminishing the skill of humility. By forcibly being so opinionated, you are skipping the vital step of critical thinking, which is to ask yourself, “What if I’m wrong?” Humility tears down walls and provides an opening for people to approach you and create a relationship. It is vital for collaboration.

From a Sustainable Human Performance standpoint, when you quickly form and share your opinions, you are emphatically expressing that you are right, and that’s the end of the discussion. It forces your brain into defense mode and creates defensiveness in those around you.

Sustainable Human Performers make another choice. Instead of hitting the send button, they hit the pause button (in their brain). They stop and consider the opinion of others (the intentions, the intensity, the knowledge, etc.). Then they ask themselves, “What do I think about this issue, and why do I think that?” In the pause, they examine this answer and ask other questions like, “What if I’m wrong?” “What am I not seeing? “If I were in their shoes, how would I see it?” “How can I learn more about this topic to challenge my own belief?”

The opinion pause is a great way to build your Performance Mindset and multiply the energy of those around you. It makes you smarter, makes others less defensive, and helps you think at a deeper level. In addition, it reduces your stress response and builds your compassion, empathy, patience, and listening skills. Sustainable Human Performance doesn’t happen by chance; it’s a choice, and choosing the opinion pause may be a good one for us all.

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