In his book The Big Questions, Steven Landsburg offers valuable advice (p. 235):
Argue passionately for your beliefs; listen intently to your adversaries, and root for yourself to lose. When you lose, you’ve learned something.
Rooting for yourself to lose runs counter to your instincts. I consider it a sign of wisdom.
If you find yourself saying things like, “I know I’m right” or “I just know that’s the way it works because I feel it,” stop and ask yourself what’s so bad if it happens that you’re wrong? Consider that you might be wrong.
When I did that, I started learning.
Yes. I’m human and not always wise. I occasionally get caught up in being right. But, it’s awfully disarming to a volatile discussion to say, “You know what. I could be wrong. Help me see what I’m missing.”
Remember ALL part of Landsburg’s advice:
- Argue passionately.
- Listen intently (which we forget to do).
Even if you don’t learn that you are wrong, you may learn why it is that you are not agreeing and find a more productive way of reaching agreement.