Socrates never claimed to be an expert in anything; instead he claimed to be just a man who was trying to understand the world around him. When he encountered someone making a bold claim he would respond with a simple question — he wanted to reduce their element to its plainest form. This method of distilling complex thought into the simplest form has become known as the Socratic method. At its core, its really just a form of conversation where two people work together to arrive at the truth. He understood that it was not enough to have his students memorize facts about the world, instead he led them to arrive at the the truth by having his students question and distill complex problems.
Law schools are noted for their use of the socratic method. Countless Hollywood movies have portrayed first year law students terrified of the professor calling their name, and this vision of socratic dialogue as a tool for inquisition and public humiliation has pervaded popular thought.
This negative perception of Socratic reasoning seems to have taken hold in popular culture. People are often uncomfortable with extended questioning of the merits of their decisions. The lizard brain kicks in, we become defensive. We become afraid, vanity inhibits our rationality. Admitting the faults in our reasoning is hard to do when we’re not accustomed to it — we are attached to our ideas precisely because they are our ideas.
Stop for a moment, I want you to be completely honest with yourself. Answer one question— are you transparent with your coworkers? Your employees? Your customers?
If you aren’t, why is that? Many excuses come to mind, I’m sure, but are they really valid? The reality is this: if you pushed to find the purpose and truth of things you would probably do better work. It’s as simple as that.
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