Fancy words that simply describe when someone is humble enough to say “I don’t know”. Or that is willing to listen from a base of curiosity that then says “tell me more”. It can be used to describe someone who quiets their point of view in order to hear from others openly without judgment before deciding if their opinions or points of view fit.
Intellectual humility is a very difficult trait to cultivate. First because we are trained from school to be right. Think get the right answers on the test. Secondly, and more powerfully so, is that our ego wants us to be right all the time. It’s how we survive in life. By making, what we consider, the right decisions all (if not at least most) of the time.
The value in cultivating intellectual humility are many. At its core, we know much less than we think we do. So honestly telling someone that you don’t know gives them the opportunity to help us learn more. Especially in areas that interest us with people who are in the same arena.
On its periphery, many times context or perspective are needed in order to begin to understand the trade offs in the possible decisions you could make with respect to a problem or situation. We can approach issues from many sides. Being humble enough to listen to others helps you form more of a 3D picture of the issues surrounding a problem or situation.
Different views of a situation or problem may result in different possible options for your next decision. All may work to some degree. The challenge in this, is what will be most effective to help you stay aligned to your longer term goal after choosing an option or making a decision.
Don’t be scared by the fancy words intellectual humility. Just remember to use more often the phrases “I don’t know”, “please tell me more”, or quiet your personal opinion to listen more closely to what others are telling you when asked. You may be surprised by what you will learn and how much it will help you.