I'm not sure if the case is the same for people living in other countries (perhaps those of you who live outside the U.S. can comment); however, it appears to me that most Americans seem to have a definitive answer for everything. We tend to answer any question with "I believe...," or "This is the way...," or "I know that...," or "He/She/It will certainly..." I have rarely heard the words, "I just don't know.." or "I am open-minded..." come up in a conversation. However, we might all benefit if we uttered the latter phrases (or something like them) more often.
Whenever I make a definitive statement, I find it difficult to backtrack later on. My ego-my sense of honor-are tied up in my proclamation. For instance, I have often said, "So and so is going to be a great fantasy football pick...," and I have selected him for my team. In those instances, I have had a difficult time benching the player when he hasn't performed well. Even worse is when I say that some important political or cultural theory is correct; I have problems changing my opinion when new data comes out which invalidates my old way of thinking.
It wouldn't be that bad if I were the only person who acted in this manner. However, it appears that most Americans, including our country's leaders and CEO's of Fortune 500 companies, suffer from the same issues. They make bold statements like, "It is always bad for the country to raise taxes!" or "Such and such strategy is the best one for this company!" These individuals find it almost impossible to agree to any plan--however beneficial--that raises taxes, or they steadfastly hold to some outdated strategic concept even as their company goes bankrupt.
Perhaps we would all be better off if we said, "I think it is an error to raise taxes in this situation; however, I am open to raising taxes in future scenarios," or "This strategy is a good one for the company right now, but I am always open to changing my mind on the issue if the situation changes or new data comes in." Even better, maybe we should say, "I really don't know which strategy is best. Let's review all of the data--and I want to get your thoughts on the issue as well. We will then make a decision based on the data we have." When we make statements like these, we leave ourselves open to change. We won't take any hits to our honor-our egos-if we change our plans in the future. I know that I would be better off if I said, "I am open to change." more often.
What do you think?