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Fred Koffman talks about the difference between a knower (one who acts like he knows everything) and a learner (a humble person open to learning more).

By Fred Kofman
Philosopher and Vice President at Linkedin

If we are wise enough to base our self-esteem not on being “right” but on being rational—on being conscious—and on having integrity, then we recognize that acknowledgment and correction of an error is not an abyss into which we have fallen but a height we can take pride in having climbed.” Nathaniel Branden.

You and I see the world differently. The way in which you deal with such differences defines you as a “knower” or a “learner.”

Knowers, also known as “Know-it-alls” claim to always know how things are, how they ought to be, and what needs to be done. They give a lot of orders and ask very few questions.

Knowers are not those who know many things because they’ve studied and practiced, becoming experts in a certain field. Knowers are those who, regardless of their real knowledge, want to impose their views on everybody else.

Learners are curious and humble, less certain about how to interpret what is going on and what to do about it. They are more inquisitive than directive. They tend to consider others’ perspectives instead of imposing their own.

Learners are not those who lack knowledge or expertise in a certain field. Learners are those who, regardless of their real knowledge (which can be massive), keep an open, curious mind, and don’t want to shut down alternative points of view without respectful consideration.

Knowers stake their self-esteem on being right—or at least convincing everybody that they are. They impose their opinions on others and claim that these opinions are “the truth.” They try to eliminate all opposing views until everybody agrees with them. They believe that they see things as they are, and that whoever does not see things in the same way is wrong.

Learners stake their self-esteem on staying open—and inviting everybody to share their views. They seek to understand and be understood. They feel at ease presenting their opinions to others as reasonable assessments and inviting others to present their different opinions in a spirit of mutual learning. They believe that they see things as they appear to them, and that their view is only part of a larger picture.

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