TED Conversations

Cody Kempema

This conversation is closed.

Is it possible to be too open-minded?

Is it possible to be too open-minded?

For me being open-minded means that you are receptive to new ideas, but also skeptical of everything. So you're weighing all the variables before making a choice based on those options. It's not really putting a trust on the information, but rather taking into account that a new perspective exists. To me I don't see a way of being too open-minded. It is possible, however, to be too accepting. That can lead to all sorts of issues .Personally I just have curiosity about things and a willingness to learn. I tend to talk to a lot of people while listening and asking questions.

Share:
  • thumb
    Mar 20 2013: Yeah, it pobally is possible to be to open minded. I am all for being receptive to new thoughts and mutually profitable discussions but at some point you must sift the information and disregard the fallacies and pursue your goal. Otherwise you would be continually chasing the "red herring" and that would not be productive. Some bosses may even consider that "day dreaming" and non-productive ... unable to achieve goals ... etc.

    There is a time and place for everything. Your question is not specific about this being workplace related or just daily conversations and search of new and different ideas.

    I too am curious and often think outside of the box. I understand your last two sentences and appreciate them.

    I wish you well. Bob.
  • Mar 21 2013: I think of being open-minded as a point of mental perception rather than action. In other words, when I am being open-minded, I am receiving and listen non-judgmentally to thoughts and ideas, wanting to understand them and possibly learn something new. This sometimes shifts my perception of what is possible which may or may not affect my decisions and actions. I tend not to take big risks, so I don't think I could ever be too open-minded. My mind can accept others thoughts, ideas, beliefs pretty easily. But it won't mean I am necessarily going to do or support others in doing things that, after processing the consequences, I believe won't benefit myself or others.
  • thumb
    Mar 19 2013: I agree with you that open-mindedness seems all good to me and that open-mindedness and critical thinking are not at all at odds with each other. Open-mindedness is about considering a range of ideas, both common and unusual. It does not mean you believe everything people tell you.
  • thumb
    Mar 19 2013: As always, the efficiency of a conversation is directly proportional to the participants all being on the same page with respect to definitions. I agree with your description of what constitutes open-mindedness. By way of amplification I believe there are times when open-mindedness is inappropriate. For example, let's say I invite investors to get-in on the ground floor of my venture to adapt a perpetual motion machine to a frictionless, 100% efficient generator for third-world applications. Prior knowledge tells even the most open-minded person that further consideration of the idea is folly. That person would not be quilty of refusing to be open-minded. Do you agree?
    • thumb
      Mar 20 2013: I do agree with you. To have a great conversation both sides need to be on equal levels.

      There are times when that sort of thinking can be inappropriate, but what if you continue a discussion in the opposite direction? So taking your example, what if you try to continue the conversation by saying "Such a device cannot work. Here are the reasons why....." Other than that I do agree that no further consideration would be necessary and it would not be refusing to be open-minded.
      • thumb
        Mar 20 2013: Sure, it is always good to be polite. My point is one should not pursue what one knows to be folly just for the sake pf being open-minded. I'm sure you've heard, "He is so open-minded his brain has fallen out!". Thank you!
        • thumb
          Mar 20 2013: Right you are. I have wondered what draws the line and when that expression comes into play.
  • thumb
    Mar 19 2013: Yes when have reached insanity, there is certainly a spiraling rabbit hole that can swallow you. Trying to wrap your head around things

    And no just hold on to reality as much as you learn that it is "fake"
  • thumb
    Mar 22 2013: I have reached a point in life where I am too open minded when it comes to people. I no longer pre or post judge people. I am open to all and experiencing people's life is rewarding. Yes it is possible to be open minded. I think open mindedness in the realm of education, theory and such is an uphill for me, I am still dealing with all the conditioning and "formal education" that I have accumulated over the years. I agree with you that been open minded is "taking into account that a new perspective exists".
  • thumb
    Mar 22 2013: In a world and a life full of tough choices, being too open minded can be a self serving mask, justifying no-choice...the thinking person's comfortable cocoon. Beware then of simply becoming a pawn for whoever now holds the power and is willing to exercise it while you sit by the side practicing openmindness.
    • Mar 22 2013: I'm open to the idea that my open-mindedness has sometimes caused me to become neutral. ;)
  • Mar 21 2013: Yes I think its possible. Its sort of like Pandoras Box. Being too open minded will perhaps make you so addicted to new knowledge that it hurts you.
  • Mar 21 2013: I think you can.

    Sometimes I've the feeling that by triing to get a good overview on a topic I get to focused on the details, integrating all minorities and triing not to offend anyone. When that happens I get the feeling that my text starts to feel slow and scared. Sometimes it even seems like I loose the focus on the topic and can't make a good point because I'm to focused on being politically correct.
    • thumb
      Mar 21 2013: I can see how that can happen. Sometimes the best solutions to things are the simplest.
    • Mar 22 2013: If you are being open out of fear of not being accepted etc...I can understand why you might question it. And doing it to be politically correct would probably fall into that same or similar fear. I think that good points come from good thinking, which doesn't happen when I'm afraid.
  • thumb
    Mar 20 2013: nice distinction between being open-minded and being accepting. Cody, if you want more time on this, hit "edit" and give yourself more time.
  • thumb
    Mar 20 2013: Generally when a person says they are open minded I find them to be anything but. It is a mask...

    I have more respect for someone who says they are a critical thinker or embrace logic or the scientific method or they LOOK.
    • Mar 22 2013: A mask for what? (I'm really curious...not a defensive tone here...)

      Maybe the definition of open-mindedness needs to include being able to observe without judgement (that is my understanding of the scientific method)
      • thumb
        Mar 23 2013: In my experience open-minded people do not have to state it.

        I might add that the only transgression one can commit in today's culture is that of having an opinion or to assign some value to something, since this is construed to be prejudice, one will be shunned for such a heinous act. This trains people to be "opened minded".
        • thumb
          Mar 23 2013: I have made the same observation- that those who call themselves open-minded or for that matter talk about their intellect often do not stand out in either way from the content of their words or actions.

          Open-mindedness is only about an interest in seeking and considering new ideas or reconsidering old ones. Considering means testing those ideas for their possible value or validity rather than accepting all ideas as correct or as generative.