The other day I was talking with a client of mine. It was after hours and I was out running personal errands. This client likes to talk, as in I spend hours on the phone with people at one time, and he was going on about a meeting. How the guy at the meeting said he couldn’t ‘read’ my client.
So my client, let’s call him Bud1 , asked me: “Am I hard to read?”
Now I replied that I think to so he was, to which Bud chuckled and asked: “Do you know why?”
Me: “Yes, because you never stop talking.”2
Bud laughed again and told me: “No, well maybe, but it’s because I never know what I am thinking — and sometimes I just change my mind every time someone talks to me.”
And I can attest, Bud does change his mind often.
But so do I. In fact, and I relayed this to him, I see the ability to change your mind as one of the most intellectually honest things you can do. But I think I need to clarify that statement a bit.
It’s not intellectual in any sense to arbitrarily change your mind — simply for the sake of changing your mind. What is intellectual is if you know why you are changing your mind.
And in most cases the “why” is usually easily cited as ‘new evidence’. But that’s why I appreciate people who change their mind so much: I know they are listening, processing, and thinking constantly about new inputs they receive. They aren’t just hearing me for the sake of trying to figure out how to punch back at my argument, they are actively listening to my point.
To me, there is nothing more you can ask from a person than for them to keep the cliched “open mind” and hear you out. I’m wrong — a lot — but what keeps me alive (so to speak) is the fact that I recognize where I have wronged, why, and then try to change it (whether that be an action, decision, or thought).
Don’t be afraid to change your mind as long as you know why you are changing your mind. I cannot imagine a world where people were not willing to change your mind — all to often we are asked to make a decision on incomplete data. Imagine if you had to stick to that decision even after you get better data? That would be horrid.
Two hours after I talked to Bud on the phone I decided to join back up on Twitter. I waited a day just to make sure that I wasn’t missing anything, but I changed my mind.
In the post about rejoining Twitter I could have defended my action without ever admitting I was wrong. I could have. But that would have been wrong in itself.
So it’s good to change you mind, but don’t do so for the wrong reasons. And certainly don’t act like you didn’t change your mind — then you just look like a fool.