Jordan Peterson has attained vast success in the expansion and adoption of his thinking. Make no mistake about it, the majority of his influence stems directly from the content of the ideas he presents. Powerful ideas require extraordinary amounts of thinking, studying, analyzing, and testing. It is evident that Jordan Peterson has spent a lifetime enhancing the ideas which he presents. He carries with him the experience of practicing as a clinical psychologist, working as professor, and writing prolifically. His ideas are powerful enough to travel vastly, and the ability to think those thoughts cannot be taught with a single article.
What we’ve tried to put together in this article, are three influential traits you can take home with you at once. Let’s put the detailed content which Jordan Peterson speaks about to the side for the purpose of this article. It requires watching many lectures and hours of content to fully grasp, understand, and contend with his well thought-out, influential knowledge. For the purpose of picking up quick habits of influencing those you speak to more effectively, below are three traits for you to focus on in your day-to-day interaction.
Be Very Careful With Your Words
The realization of how much pain our words can carry is dark in its nature. We’ve all caused others pain with something we’ve said, and we’ve all gotten into trouble for saying the wrongs things. As we progress slowly though life we learn little by little how important it is to express our thoughts without causing others trouble or pain. The journey of being conscious of the effect every word you speak has on others quickly turns granular, and requires inordinate amount of detailed thinking. You must understand context clearly, and how those you speak with perceive the words you say. It is not just a matter of definition, and mostly has to do with meaning. Striving to communicate with optimal meaning forces you to be extremely careful with how you speak. Realize that one word can ruin everything you’ve said prior, and that one word can lead others reacting in unpredictable ways.
Jordan Peterson explicitly states his intention to be very careful with his words in the video below (watch for 1 minute). Your goal to be understood should be coupled with a desire to reach that goal with clear and precise language. Limit the tangents people take when attempting to understand your speech, and correct them at once. Being carefree with the selection of the words with which you speak will lead to being labelled incorrectly, being forced into taking sides of an argument you don’t actually stand behind, and a general misunderstanding of your ideas.
In order for your thoughts to be understood in the way you intend them to, you need to police the language with which you express your ideas. Doing so requires an understanding of the desires of those you listen to, as well as their tendencies in expressing their own ideas. Speaking with someone who has a specified agenda they want to spread will motivate them to hear what pertains to furthering their goal and ignore what disagrees with it. Being careful with your words is very much an exercise of reading those who listen to your words. Friends you’ve known for many years will tend to understand the meaning and intention behind your speech better than those you’ve just met. It becomes easy to fall into a lazy habit of not considering every word which we speak into the world when we’re surrounded by those who have grown to understand our meaning.
A good way to practice being careful with your words is to be willing to speak with those who disagree with you. They will be more likely to latch onto inconsistencies in your speech, and will require precise language in order to understand your point of view. Speaking with people who disagree with you will expose the myriad of meanings your words can have in the minds of others, and you’ll find yourself needing to adjust the manner in which you present ideas to discourage variance in their meaning.
Learn From Those Who Know Less Than You
When you spend considerable time perfecting a craft, a study, or a behavior, you’ll find yourself possessing an above-average level of skill in that domain. As you begin interacting with those less experienced than you are in that domain, there will be a tendency to not respect what they say to the fullest of your ability. We become proud of what we know, and when we perceive others to not know as much as we do in a specified domain, we tend to let our pride block out their ideas to a degree.
Apart from the risks for limiting your own understanding, the tendency to not listen attentively to those less knowledgeable will make them feel inadequate. Making others feel inadequate in their knowledge will create a competitive overtone to the conversations which you have with them. They will begin to question the knowledge you present, as they see that you’re questioning theirs and not listening with full intent to understand. Unless proper attention and understanding is received, this back-and-forth can lead to the blatant refusal to listen by both parties.
Below, Jordan Peterson specifies his reason for taking others’ knowledge seriously (watch for 2 minutes) and speaks to his intention to learn from everyone he listens to.
He hits on an idea which we did not mention above. Above all else, accepting the knowledge other people possess in a serious manner can lead to the assurance of your safety. You can learn things from others which save you from sadness, tragedy, and failure in the future. The understanding of this concept should motivate you to not miss a single piece of knowledge which can serve to improve your life. In order not to miss things you can learn from, you have to filter through everything you hear with utmost seriousness.
When you make it a mission to learn from everyone with whom you interact, you’re not only opening them up to learn from you by showing that you’re compassionate to their ideas, but you’re also serving to potentially safe yourself down the line. Newly attained knowledge should never be underestimated. A person who offers the slightest fraction of meaningful knowledge should still be seriously listened to.
Form Habit of Tackling What You Fear Most Head-On
Changing minds effectively requires you to constantly face your fear of being wrong. Being comfortable in your ways of thinking is a sign of a lack of willingness to explore. Attaining knowledge, understanding, and thereby influence requires you to constantly test your understanding against the understanding others have of the subjects you aim to explore. It is a scary thing to take the words of those you disagree with seriously and perhaps to heart. In order to prove wrong those you disagree with, you’re going to need to delve into their way of thinking, understand it, and claw your way back out from the depths of their misunderstandings. Do your best in trying to accept the ideas with those you disagree with, and take notes of what stops you from doing so. This exercise is a painful one which depends on placing yourself and your belief systems at risk. You must venture into the depths of everything you disagree with and understand it. Only then can you properly explain what it is wrong and work your way back to where your understanding comfortably lives.
Your comfort in your ideas will increase with every iteration of this exercise. If you want an enemy to listen you must dive into what they believe and and work to understand it. Practice ideologically tackling what you fear most, without blinding yourself to its existence.
Jordan Peterson speaks to this concept with more clarity and meaning below (watch for 1 minute). He expands this philosophy into a general approach to life rather than a mere ideological one in an effort to change the ideas others have.
Peterson’s approach can be utilized for all areas of self improvement, such as working to overcome addictive habits and venturing towards a healthier dietary lifestyle. It is a concept centered on absolute honesty about the situation at hand, not being afraid to look the demon right into the eye and battle it with all your might.
Do not fear those who strongly disagree with you and be willing to be questioned for what you believe to be true. Do not react in emotional ways to being labelled wrong. Attempt to slay the demons which you encounter day to day pragmatically, methodically, and in logical fashion. If you fail to do so with every ounce of strength you can muster, then you should reconsider your position and whether you’ve mislabeled the demon which you attempt to slay. This exercise is an exercise of figuring out the truth, and is extremely painful the deeper you venture down its path. It will surely teach you lessons amidst the pain, and you should never be afraid to venture down this dark road.
Featured Image Attribution:
|Description||Dr. Jordan Peterson delivering a lecture at the University of Toronto in 2017.|
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