358: The Value of Consuming Opposing Opinions
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In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about how to consume opposing opinions.
Whether we know it or not, we are all stuck in our own little bubble. While this can be a good thing, to live a more balanced business and work life, it is a good idea to be open to views that are different from our own.
Tune in to this week’s episode to hear Steli and Hiten thoughts on how opposing views can be valuable, how you can be more welcoming to opposing views and much more.
Time Stamped Show Notes:
00:30 About today’s topic.
00:47 One of Hiten’s favorite books.
01:25 One huge value of opposing views.
01:54 How we are all, to an extent, living in our own bubble.
02:30 Why being aware is really valuable.
03:40 How thinking differently can help you understand others and their worldviews better.
04:27 How it can be very easy to get stuck in your bubble.
05:03 How listening to opposing views can help you get out of a sticky situation.
05:45 Some things you can do to help you consume opposing views.
06:50 How having an opposing viewpoint can be instrumental in living a good life.
3 Key Points:
- Whatever you think, think the opposite.
- Opposing views opens you up to possibilities and ideas you were not thinking off.
- I think it’s arrogant to assume that one does not live in a certain version of reality that is not shared by everybody on this planet.
Steli Efti: Hey, everybody. This is Steli Efti.
Hiten Shah: This is Hiten Shah, and today on The Startup Chat we’re going to talk about a longstanding topic. We don’t have many of those, but it’s a longstanding one which is I think, Steli, you said it as how to consume opposing opinions. Is that about right?
Steli Efti: Yeah. Even more specifically the value of consuming opposing opinions, or breaking through your echo chamber or whatever you want to call it.
Hiten Shah: I know we love books. One of my favorite books is actually The Five Elements of Effective Thinking. One of the tips they have in it, one of the five is actually whatever you think, think the opposite, and just play that exercise out. I think that I read that book probably once every nine to twelve months, nine to eighteen months depending on how I’m feeling. It’s always got all those reminders I need to just think differently, all those reminders I need to have more effective thinking. One of them is this, so I think that there’s a tremendous amount of value. One of the things I’ll say first about it is the value of thinking about opposing views is highly based on what it does to your mind, and how it opens you up to possibilities and ideas that you are closed off to if you are not thinking about an opposing viewpoint or an opposing idea, or the opposite of whatever you’re thinking.
Steli Efti: I love that. I think we all to a certain extent live in some kind of a …
Hiten Shah: Bubble.
Steli Efti: Whatever you want to call it. A bubble. Some bubbles are bigger than others. Some of them are more solid than others, but we all do. I think it’s arrogant to assume that one does not live in a certain version of reality that is not shared by everybody on this planet. The cultures we live in, the communities we live in, the people we surround ourselves with do shield us, do make us part of certain tribes and certain groupthinks, and certain ways of consuming information and certain leanings in terms of our thinking, and maybe instinctual make us reject other groups, other tribes, other ways of thinking about certain topics. I think that, A, being aware that that is happening is really valuable and that we’re all to a certain extent “victims” of that. Then, actively working against that to either extend the bubble or switch bubbles once in a while. I love the example that you brought which is like, “Whatever you think, try to think the opposite for a little while and see how that feels.” Which is basically like switching your bubble, like going to the opposing bubble and see how they think and feel and how it would feel to you to think that way. I think all of that, like all these activities that try to get you either to expand or burst your bubble and join others is to become more self-aware and to, in my mind, create more flexibility in thinking, or at least counteract rigidity in thinking, habitual thinking. You’re always thinking a certain way or you respond really strongly against certain types of ideas out of instinct versus out of good reasoning. You become more flexible, more creative in the way you think, and probably become more empathetic. You understand others and their world views much better. Therefore, hopefully you become a better human all around, and a better entrepreneur for certain. As an entrepreneur you’re going to have to service probably and hopefully a wider range of people. You’re going to have to work with lots of different type of people, so if you have more flexibility, if you have less of a super-hardcore echo chamber and bubble, the more people you’re going to be able to empathize with, understand, talk to, communicate with and build things for, at the end of the day.
Hiten Shah: We all want to get better, and we want to make improvements. If we don’t and if you don’t, you’re not in the right place. You shouldn’t be listening to this, and I think that it’s very easy to get stuck in whatever ways you’re thinking or whatever beliefs you have. A lot of this to me is also about really understanding more about yourself and what you believe when you start thinking about the concept of opposing views, a concept of thinking differently than you currently are. A lot of times when you’re stuck I find this to be most useful. If you’re stuck on something, you’re stuck on how to grow your business, or you’re stuck on even what to eat for dinner today, there’s a lot of opposing ways. You might be habitual and you might go to the same place every Wednesday or whatever. What if you went somewhere differently? What if you thought about it differently? What if you tried something new? I think to me this whole tactic, this whole thing has been all about, this idea for me in my life has been all about how do I get beyond any of my own beliefs that are holding me back.
Steli Efti: I love that.
Hiten Shah: That’s really important to me.
Steli Efti: Let’s share a few tactical things before we wrap this episode up. You came out of the gate guns blazing with your tip, both giving a book recommendation as well as picking out one specific tactic out of that book that you use a lot. One thing that I’ve started to do, just to share, in terms of starting to consume more opposing opinions and data points is that I used to curate my Twitter feed unconsciously based on people I agreed or disagreed with. I have more liberal tendencies, and I’m more liberal leanings in my ways of thinking, just letting people do whatever the hell they want. Whenever I would see somebody overly political and overly conservative in some ways that I disagreed with I would just unfollow people. I’d be like, “I don’t want to see this stuff. I’m not interested in this type of content. I disagree vehemently with your point of view, so let me just clean you out of my feed.” I did that until I realized I only have a certain type of person in my feed, which then also made me concerned. One thing that I started doing in the last maybe 18 months or so was to start following people that I thought were very thoughtful or smart or in some way I respected but had very different world views about certain things than me. Either following people that were advocates of things that I was against, or that were living a certain lifestyle, or people that were running their businesses in a very different way than I like to run my business, but they still had to have something I respected. It was a person that I was like, “I’m interested in this person’s opinion, although I know that a lot of the things they write about on Twitter, for instance, I disagree with.” I started creating a much more diverse list of people that I follow. There’s still a lot more work to be done, but I follow a bunch of people that their opinions are insane to me, but they always stimulate, they always make me think a little bit more. They always make me go, “Why do I disagree with this instinctively although I don’t have any data about it?” They make me think more about my own opinions. I use their opposing views as a training mechanism for me to think more flexibly and to start reading different types of media, because they share certain articles from media sources I don’t consume myself. That’s been something that I think has helped me a lot to understand different types of world views better, and consume a lot more variety in the world views on a specific medium like Twitter. Versus before, I had done a lot of practicing on homogenizing my feed and having only a certain type of person with a certain type of world view on it.
Hiten Shah: I really like that. I think having this ability to have viewpoints that are not your own is such a critical aspect of, I think, living a good life, to be honest, and being able to actually even interact with other people. It’s likely that every person you meet or even every person you know has a different viewpoint than you about something, probably most things. I think that’s really valuable to think through and think about. My tip is just that, which is like since I already gave some, like you said, which is just like it will lead to a better life if you can have that openness to at least not even accept or anything, but be able to entertain other viewpoints.
Steli Efti: Yeah. Maybe to round off this episode I’ll double click on one thing that’s been interesting for me, which is that for the past six months or so, again, I heard about this from an old philosopher who was in the 60s studying a lot of conspiracy theories. When he was interviewed why, people were like, “Why do you know so much about conspiracy theories? Why do you study them so much? Do you really believe all this stuff?” He said, “No. I think most of this stuff is totally crazy and not really probable to me. One thing why I love reading these is because it really challenges me to think differently and start questioning things that I would just take for granted.” I read that, and I was like, “That’s interesting.” I started actually following some super-hardcore conspiracy theorists online and just consuming a little bit of the stuff that they share. It has been a really interesting exercise. Some of that stuff is so crazy, it’s so out there that my initial response is to immediately dismiss it, but I’ve tried to exercise of like what would have to happen to convince me that this is true. What would happen to convince me that something …
Hiten Shah: I like that.
Steli Efti: … Is true that the vast majority of humans would disagree with me on? It has happened in the past that the majority of humans believed something that today we know is not true. What would it take for me to take a minority point view, and reject the majority? It’s been a fascinating experiment. Most of these things have not convinced me, but not just outright rejecting them because they seem ridiculous, but playing with them a little bit more in my mind, and going, “What would I have to do to believe this stuff?” Made me just think a bit more critically about certain things that I just took for granted and always believed without actually knowing a lot about this stuff.
Hiten Shah: I really like that. Conspiracy theories are fun. It also can open up your creativity.
Steli Efti: Absolutely. These are some tips that we have to share if you listen to this and you have experimented with consuming opposing opinions and you’ve tried things, and you have ideas to share or stories to share, we always love to hear from you. Send us an email, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. Until next time, we’ll hear you very soon.
Hiten Shah: See you.