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<xTITLE>Since When is Changing Your Mind a Bad Thing?</xTITLE>

Since When is Changing Your Mind a Bad Thing?

by Diane J. Levin
March 2007

From Online Guide to Mediation

Diane J. Levin

"Change your thoughts and you change your world," said Norman Vincent Peale. But he was obviously not reckoning on today's political culture, which seems resistant to change--at least when it comes to minds.

Despite the results of the 2006 midterm elections here in the U.S., American politicians and pundits continue to laud the virtues of "staying the course" as sound strategy for political success--and not just when it comes to the Iraq war, but to all kinds of issues. Consistency, congruity, unswerving loyalty not just to people but chiefly to ideas and causes--these hold high value in American politics and culture.

There is no greater insult in America today than "flip-flopper", a label anyone with political ambitions is eager to avoid. It's as if the act of changing one's mind as the result of reasoned self-reflection is somehow as shameful, as, say, lying about sex with an intern, rather than a mark of maturity and character.

Certainly anyone who changes their views with the prevailing wind as a matter of political expediency deserves our condemnation, as do those who fail to keep their promises, both political and otherwise.

But as a mediator I have to ask, what's so great about consistency anyway? If you're going in the wrong direction, what's the problem with heading in a better one? When exactly did it get to be a bad thing to change your mind?

Maybe it's because mediators see people change their minds all the time. A mediator, nudging disputants toward understanding, may help them walk around a problem, lift it up, turn it over, and examine it from all sides. We witness individuals gather new data, test their assumptions against that data, and reach very different conclusions from the ones they initially arrived with. We see them admit or address mistakes and make necessary course corrections. And watch how these acts open the door to new possibilities and greater gains.

As Charles Kettering once said, "Where there is an open mind there will always be a frontier."

Biography


Diane Levin, J.D., is a mediator, dispute resolution trainer, negotiation coach, writer, and lawyer based in Marblehead, Massachusetts, who has instructed people from around the world in the art of talking it out. Since 1995 she has helped clients resolve disputes involving tort, employment, business, estate, family, and real property issues, and serves on numerous mediation panels, including the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Training and coaching are an enduring passion -- she has taught thousands of people to resolve conflict, negotiate better, or become mediators -- from Croatian judges to Fortune 500 executives.

 

A geek at heart, Levin consults on web design and social media to professionals.  She blogs about ADR at the intersection of law, science, and popular culture at the award-winning MediationChannel.com, regarded as one of the world's top ADR blogs.  She also tracks and catalogues ADR blogs world-wide at ADRblogs.com, where she has created a community for bloggers writing about constructive ways to resolve disputes.

 

web site: http://dianelevin.com



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