The Secret Ingredient Missing From Every Conversation

That’s the most liberating, wonderful thing in the world, when you openly admit you’re an ass. It’s wonderful. When people tell me, “You’re wrong.” I say, “What can you expect of an ass?”

S.J. Anthony de mello – SOURCE: AWARENESS

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Stephen R. Covey – SOURCE: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The vast majority of conversations consist of two people trying to have their egos validated by proving that one is right and the other is wrong. Often both will agree but even then, in most cases, what they agree is that others are wrong and they are right.

This is a special, saucy kind of conversation where two individuals stroke each others egos instead of their own. “Oh stop it.” “No you stop it.” “Reowww!”

It’s all based on the egos insatiable appetite to be right. To try to make sense of a world it can’t possibly make sense of. To place everything into neat little boxes. So we can get a tick with an A+ next to it.

Well done Timmy you passed the test! You’re 100 percent right! Any other option would have been wrong but you got it right! This is exactly how the world works!

The problem is so many of us have been raised to look at the world through this black and white lens where we’re taught that right equals good. Right equals success. Right equals smart and capable. Whereas wrong equals failure. Wrong equals incapable. Wrong equals dumb.

It’s this kind of thinking that has made being wrong so difficult for so many of us.

It either threatens our identity as being smart and capable or confirms it as being dumb and incapable. In both cases we find being wrong so incredibly painful we avoid putting ourselves out there at all costs.

The question is how do we protect ourselves against this form of thinking? How do we protect against having a fixed mindset?

Well one way is to consider that every single thought you’ve ever had, every thought that anyone has ever had, is in some way, shape or form, wrong. To consider that there is no black or white, only grey.

If you look deeply enough you’ll see this is true. That we are always wrong in someway, shape or form. This argument itself can be picked apart on so many levels.

The reason is there is no possible way you, or anyone else, can know everything there is to know about anything. The world is simply too complex.

The sooner we can see how deeply flawed the ways in which we think are, the sooner we can let go of our limiting beliefs and more forward to slightly less limiting beliefs.

Equally the sooner we can get to grips with the idea we know next to nothing – the more comfortable we can become in not knowing. This actually, paradoxically, promotes curiosity and learning. 

It does this by helping us to understand that there is always something to learn. Always some area in which we can grow and get better. Equally it keeps our egos from feeling threatened by the idea that it’s wrong. As a result we become less afraid to learn and ask questions. We become less afraid to put our hands up and ask stupid questions.

This way of thinking promotes a growth mindset.

So next time you have a conversation with someone I suggest dropping all notions of, or attempts at, being right. Instead I invite you consider simply trying to be a little less wrong than you already are. Not only will this put you in a willing mindset to learn, it will allow you take whatever someone else has to say with a huge pinch of salt.

Thanks again for reading everyone. I’m curious what tactics you might have for cultivating a growth mindset? How do you keep an open mind? As always I welcome ALL thoughts and opinions. I will always take it with a pinch of salt.


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33 thoughts on “The Secret Ingredient Missing From Every Conversation

  • Great piece, very enjoyable. It resonates with me because the story that I believed for 56 years was wrong and there were tragic consequences. I believe each of us believes the story of our lives that we were told until either something shattering happens: something in some way shakes it up, hard. So the subjective Truth of each of us is just that, subjective. Great to connect with like minded people who want to pull back the curtain and see what Oz has back there.!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you sharing this. I was bullied as an adolescent which led to years of living with a fixed mindset that said I wasn’t capable or good enough which in turn led to years of depression and anxiety. It took a lot of work in therapy to shift that narrative. However going through all that has made me so much stronger than I otherwise would be. I wouldn’t change it. It’s the reason I write. I want to help others shatter the negative beliefs that are holding them back. I’m so happy it resonated with you 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  • I really struggle with this, I must admit. I feel the need (obsession) to convey the right in a conversation, the truth. But I’ve learnt that the truth is defined by those who believe it. And people have different minds and perspectives. My aunt always tells that you can take away atleast 10% from a conversation with the most insane, idiotic or stupid person. You can always learn something anywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think we all struggle with this. It’s the egos way of protecting its identity. If you’re looking at how you’re wrong and what you can learn from a conversation you’ll always walk away a winner. Regardless as to whether you lose the argument or fail to change another’s mind. We can always learn. We can always grow. Your aunt sounds like a smart lady. Thanks for sharing 🙏


  • I accept what others are or what they believe – people are people… we learn from people – I like learning

    I don’t tell anyone else what to believe or how to be or who they should be.

    But I know what is right for my own self… I also know what I can handle having in my life … so I just kinda wing it with that.

    I like people to be whoever they are or want, and I am supportive and caring … but there are things and people I can not have around me because it will invade what I feel is peace for myself. So I have caution.

    I do agree with some of these points but not all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve made my point exactly. You’re not meant to agree with everything I say exactly as I’ve said it. You’re meant to take everything I have to say with a pinch of salt. I’m not trying to validate my ego by being right. I’m simply trying to get myself and others to think differently. To challenge them by assuming they are wrong so they can take a position of learning. Taking what others have to say with a pinch of salt helps you to look through their ideas and thought for what they are (just thoughts and ideas) and accept them for who they are. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Omatra7. It’s exactly these kinds of conversations I want to be having. I want to be challenged so I can see the flaws in the way I think. So I move to being slightly less wrong than i was yesterday 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  • Your Bang-on Air Pilot! We all do this stroking of egos. Ego-stroking usually occurs (unlike ass-kissers) when someone agrees with our opinions, or our similar beliefs. So in reality, we’re really stroking our own selfish ego. And over what? A stated personal belief or opinion that we’ve almost surely been influenced by somebody else. And most likely — a complete stranger to boot!

    Most of us, 99% or so, form our opinions over a lifetime gathered by the relatively same anecdotal informational resources that “we all share!” From views from strangers on the Internet, the TV, author of books we’ve read; and to a lesser degree from conversations with our peers, parents or, God help us (pun intended) from religious dogma!

    So in the end, and most likely, most of our Opinions are not even really our own to begin with! But oh how we like them to be stroked! — Why do you think there are so many Blogs today! Lol!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Yes absolutely agreed! Some ego stroking going on here my friend. I’d be a massive hypocrite if I pretended I was any different. The desire to be right is the ego equivalent of being on crack. Its both highly addictive and extremely damaging.

    Yes It’s certainly frightening to think that most of our thoughts aren’t really ours at all. But keeping that in mind is another good way to shatter the ego! Thanks for your input 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  • A excellent article! I inspect my expectations, actually check them at the door, to empty and whole body listen to what someone has to say… through all the pauses and stops and meanderings… until they look at me in that way of, “Ok, I filled the space between us with that. Your turn. What do you feel about what I just shared there?” Mostly, nonverbally in that last moment. Then, I pause, steep in it, gut check and feel, and regardless look for the workability and gems they gifted Don geodes offered to potentially be beautifully opened.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wonderfully put Jordan – that’s a difficult skill you describe. I think you’re spot on. Trusting your gut or your intuition. Often it’s not about being right but simply listening so the other person feels heard. I think this matter more – not only because you have a better chance of changing someone’s mind – but because that’s all they really want. By feeling heard that softens people’s stance immediately. This is how we change hearts and minds. Forget being right. Listen deeply. There is always something else going on beyond the words that are spoken. Great stuff. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree to a point, though I don’t just so they feel heard to change their mind. I listen to hear them. Any mind changing may end up being something else after, though usually affects connection. Then, it is more of a mutual share. No right or wrong. Reasons are unreasonable to me in that regard. That someone feels something is the truth of the inner contents at work straightaway. Sometimes ineffable, sometimes not.

        I’m more interesting in strengthening people’s hearts rather than softening them. As, strong enough to be gentle… Brene Brown said, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of courage.” As when we are strong, we can be unthreatened and consequently vulnerable. In that place true listening occurs. Influence is another thing entirely that has more to do with boundaries, etc.


        Liked by 1 person

      • I hear you. Changing people’s mind shouldn’t be the goal. Listening so they feel heard is what matters most. Softening their stance was in relation to their mind rather than their heart. My thinking was that you have a better chance of breaking through to someone by truly listening to them – as in you give them the strength to be vulnerable. Not that it’s the goal but I believe you’ll have a better chance of them hearing you as well. I echo Brene browns thoughts about vulnerability. I believe in honesty. Showing ones vulnerability is the ultimate form of honesty. It takes a lot of courage to do so. Thanks for making me think 🙏

        Liked by 1 person

  • Hello, I have started following your blogs as I enjoyed reading Clear Air Turbulance. I have just started blogging too…. maybe you might like to read my blogs too. My website is
    Thank you for your thought provoking, inspiring writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Another ‘spot on’ post AP2. Thanks.

    Projecting an ‘adequate’ self image is our ego’s ploy to placate the hidden flawed self that plagues us. Having the courage to be totally transparent with another soul is a healing, refreshing exposure I enjoy with a few trusted accountability partners I’ve been blessed with. This ole Ragamuffin has learned here’s no healing in camouflaged denial.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said Fred. Really strength is showing one’s vulnerabilities. It is also the path to healing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts 🙏


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