Know When to Redirect Your Competitive Impulse
You can take your competitive drive and use it to make you more receptive to changing your mind if the evidence warrants it.
Julia Galef is a New York-based writer and public speaker specializing in science, rationality, and design. She serves on the board of directors of the New York City Skeptics, co-hosts their official podcast, Rationally Speaking, and co-writes the blog Rationally Speaking along with philosopher of science Massimo Pigliucci. She has moderated panel discussions at The Amazing Meeting and the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism, and gives frequent public lectures to organizations including the Center for Inquiry and the Secular Student Alliance. Julia received her B.A. in statistics from Columbia in 2005.
One technique I've found useful is something I call redirect your competitive impulse. The underlying principle here is about accepting that you have this need for feeling validated in yourself, but just channeling it in a more productive direction.
So you might think a lot of us intuitively think about arguments as essentially duels where you're fighting with the other person and you're worried that their weapon might be bigger, their argument might be better than yours and that they're going to win the duel.
So you can just accept that that is how you view arguments, but you can remind yourself that the way in which arguments are not like duels is that at the end of the duel if it turns out that your opponent has a bigger and better weapon than yours once you lose that duel you then get a copy of that bigger, better weapon, which you can then use to win duels with other people about that issue in the future.
So this is taking your competitive drive and using it to make you more receptive to changing your mind if the evidence warrants it.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock