Are You “Teachable” or Just Manipulated?

Erik Cooper —  February 1, 2012 — 4 Comments

I’ve always prided myself on being teachable. Open to challenge. New ideas. Ways of thinking. I believe it’s one of my most likeable traits. I do my best to understand your perspective and even allow it to influence my own. I want to learn and get better, and I usually assume you have something of value to add to my life.

But there’s a fine line between being “teachable” and manipulated.

If we’re not careful, being open to new ideas can manifest as having no convictions of our own. Being controlled and directed by the loudest, most articulate and outspoken voice in the room. I think that’s a mistake.

Here’s a couple of things I’m working on:

  1. Have an opinion.
  2. Argue more.
  3. Contend for what’s inside.
  4. Irritate a few people.
  5. Challenge assumptions.

Some of you out there thrive on those 5 steps, but I’m guessing a vast majority would feel guilty, uncomfortable, or arrogant for embracing those expressions. But here’s the thing…

The world needs more of you, not who you think everyone else wants you to be. The beauty (and the truth) is usually in the tension. So go out there and create a little.

Being teachable is not the same as being manipulated. Stir it up a little today.

4 responses to Are You “Teachable” or Just Manipulated?

  1. Stir it up!! I like that. Although, I am more likely to do that with a gumbo, jambalaya or my favorite boiler pot of crustaceans. I actually tried my hand at boiled lobster last week. Delicioso! Yet I digress…

    In my early days, being teachable was more analogous to being a pushover, and I’ve had to work hard to overcome that. I wanted to be accommodating, compliant — a people pleaser. As an internal medicine resident, I often had to consult subspecialty fellows in training, and while most were caring, hard-working people, some would try to talk me out of requiring their services because that only meant more work for them. Their knowledge base was much broader than my own, but I often saw their arguments as an attempt to “teach” me why a different subspecialty consult might be more appropriate. Nonetheless, I thought, how can I go back to Mrs. Smith’s room and say, “Mrs. Smith, I’m afraid I cannot help solve your medical problem, and I cannot find ANYONE else to help you, either. Have a nice life — in severe pain!” Of course, THAT was not an option. I was her advocate. I had to stand in the gap. I had to drag that subspecialist by the ear and pull them to my patient’s bedside.

    Strange that it is so much easier to advocate for others.

    Consequently, I try to remove myself (so to speak) from testy situations where someone is trying to teach, influence, push, direct, convince or otherwise manipulate me. I look at the situation as though I am the advocate for…well, for me. I try to become the fly on the wall, a third person or even “change the actual names to protect the innocent.” That makes it so much easier for me to be objective and worry less about hurting someone else’s feelings or bruising their ego, despite their awe-inspiring, outspoken, loudmouth, articulate wisdom and knowledge. –Darrell

  2. @ Darrell: IS THAT WHY YOU ALWAYS WALK OUT OF THE ROOM WHEN I’M TALKING TO YOU!? 😉

    Thought provoking blog, Erik.

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