Do I Want to Know What I Don’t Want to Know?


Many of us are inflicted with a terrible disease of thinking – knowing only what I want to know! Is that being hardheaded and stubborn? The problem with this attitude is you don’t know what crucial information you’re missing.

Let’s complete an exercise. Look at one of your hands. See it? Identify something you don’t like about it. Got it? Now for the crucial point– did you notice that you didn’t see what you like while staring at what you don’t like? That’s what happens with a made-up opinion, you only see one facet of the object or issue.

Have you ever assumed something to only later find out that you were wrong? We all have. Study the dynamics. We made a conclusion based on a set of information. Eventually we changed our mind when new information became available. But we had an option that was to stubbornly continue believing in our original thought regardless of how true the new information might be. Doesn’t make good sense, does it? Why would anyone cling to a thought that was wrong?

I am bewildered by supervisors who only want to know information that aligns with their set of beliefs. It seems such thinking is akin to cutting off your nose to spit in your face. I’m not going to focus on the “whys” people are so short sighted in this article, but I encourage leaders and supervisors to think about two things. One is that a made-up mind loses its objectivity according to a Chinese proverb. (I can hear some of your thinking right now… I’m not believing a damn thing that comes out of China!) Just for a moment open your mind and think about the implications of that proverb. The closed mind can prevent the best decision from being made which leads to the second point — leaders/supervisors don’t have the luxury to be closed minded. These people are responsible to ensure the best decisions to advance the success of the dealership.

One additional thought Have you noticed that while talking to someone that your brain is constantly thinking? Sure, you have, and you’ve taken advantage of your thoughts that were stimulated by the discussion. That’s the beauty of the mind — to find the best idea. Again, closed minded people miss such phenomenal insights.

I see closed minded thinking whenever one person or department wants a decision that is best for them. An argument and conflict quickly emerges. I’ve been told numerous times such conflicts between parts, service and sales are “normal.” Such thinking perpetuates such conflict. All I have space to say, at this time, is; Yes, different opinions are natural. No, different opinions should not lead to an argument if the involved parties are committed to make a decision to support the dealership’s success.

Mental Formula to Open Your Mind

Now let’s address the mental formula that each of us must employ to expand our beliefs. First is the agreement that we’re closed minded. Without this understanding, there is no hope to expand one’s thinking. A side note is if others perceive you as closed minded while your self-perception is open-minded you may have a serious issue on your hands.

Second is the self-awareness to your closed mind. At that precise moment of being aware of a closed mind, self-discipline is required to (1) truncate such disastrous thinking, (2) agree that your thinking might be wrong, and (3) implement the plan to solicit and listen to understand different opinions in search of the best idea.

While listening as others present ideas, be acutely aware of your thought pattern as it is easy for your thoughts to automatically revert to being “closed mindedness” and increase the urge to argue your point. When that happens, you must open-back-up and continue listening to understand. Being driven by the commitment to secure the best idea or make the best decision will help open your mind.

Another tool to stimulate thinking and discussion is to offer a dissenting opinion to the one initially presented and observe the openness of the ensuing conversation. If the introduction of the dissenting opinion shuts down the conversation, you may have an intimidation operating within the team. Obviously, that’s not good.

Here’s the bottom line. All of us are required to make the decision as to the reputation we want to create with our colleagues. I’m currently working with a young employee with this very issue. He tells me that he wants a reputation of being an elite performer and to use others’ opinions to improve performance, but his actions tell the story of the polar opposite — “I’m always right.” Time will tell if he will use the necessary self-control to become the person he professes he wants to be. If not, his colleagues will continue to talk about him behind his back while hoping that he leaves the company.

Article Written by Dr. Larry Cole

LARRY COLE, PH.D., is a lead trainer for and consultant to the North American Equipment Dealers Association’s Dealer Institute. He provides onsite training and public courses to improve business leadership effectiveness and internal and external customer service. Please send questions and /or comments to Larry at


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