Being persuadable is about actively open-minded thinking. That is to say, it is not enough to be open to evidence that goes against our own beliefs. One has to seek that out.

Some good ways to practice that.

  • Ask yourself why you think a certain way, how you could be wrong, what alternative explanations might there be.
  • Think in shades of gray rather than in black and white – it is easier to update your beliefs incrementally, it is more difficult to completely change your mind.
  • Prepare to kill your beliefs by decatastrophizing – asking what is the worst thing that could happen? has the power to bring catastrophic outcomes down to earth.
  • Make time to consider other people’s perspective (before a meeting, before a talk, before a difficult conversation).

If you do that consistently, you gain in accuracy (getting closer to “reality”), agility (overcoming the status quo bias and the sunk cost fallacy), and growth (using feedback to improve).

And, contrary to common belief, you will not give up autonomy and self-determination.

Autonomy doesn’t mean reflexively resisting all external influences. That would be impossible, not to mention foolish. It means taking actions that “are both personally valued and well synthesized with the totality of one’s values and beliefs” regardless of who suggests those actions.

Al Pittampalli, Persuadable
Persuadable, by Al Pittampalli - Book Cover
Persuadable, by Al Pittampalli – Book Cover

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