The difference between openness and open mindedness…

Thanks to my customers, I am able to work also in international projects e.g. in global leadership development projects. This article is on an interesting difference in people…

It is crucial for learning to establish a learning culture in seminar or workshop settings. Usually that means enabling good relationships and a psychologically safe environment on one side and open up the curiosity of participants on the other side. Sometimes, they cover their curiosity or willingness to learn under the term „challenge“. Sensation seekers definitely look for new sensations – and probably need them to let new things in…

In that sense it is important to know the difference between two concepts which should not be mixed up. I learn from my participants by observing. And I observe sometimes people who state, that they need so called „openness“ in order to learn. I interpret this mental model (by observation of their behavior) as the fundamental willingness to share what is on ones mind. It is like opening the door and letting others participate on one’s thoughts and ideas. Nevertheless, I also observe that this does not tell anything about the ability to deal with other or new ideas. Maybe they are even rejected as „nothing new“. In that case learning just happens in terms of a constant comparison with one’s own mental models.

In contrast here you find „open mindedness“. This in my eyes is the hard, uncommon and often unpleasant part. Open minds are recognized by the ability to walk in those new and never used shoes without early rejection…  The interesting part in my eyes: As a facilitator, you only can do two things: Invite persons to this side and give feedback on your perception. This extra mile can only be done be everyone him- or herself.

I am a big fan of autonomous decisions: I encourage others to decide where they want to be: More on the open side or even on the open mind side… And it is important to know: Open minds always run into risks: They might risk that the world as they knew it no longer exists after learning and encorporating something new…

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