Are You A Knower Or A Learner?


How do you respond to someone who views an issue differently from you? Perhaps he holds a different opinion or has offered feedback on how to improve. If you consider yourself the subject matter expert, you might not accept the feedback willingly. You might start thinking of reasons to back up your opinion or action. “The audacity…” you might even think.

This is commonly known as the ‘knower’ mindset. When a person thinks that he knows a subject deeply, he starts to think of himself as the expert on the matter. He sees his opinion as fact. He may feel challenged when someone raises an objection, which may then lead to him being defensive of his opinions.

In scenarios where emotions escalate, conversations and discussions can become unpleasant for all parties involved.

Image courtesy of Suzi Finkelstein

A ‘learner’ mindset, on the other hand, acknowledges that there are many ways to understand an issue. Even if the person has spent years studying the matter, he knows that his viewpoint is limited and will not possibly be all-encompassing. He is open to alternatives and suggestions.

More importantly, he does not assume that his perspective of the matter is obvious to everyone. He states his opinion clearly, explains it, and allows time for his explanation to be understood.

Learner Vs. Knower Students

As a young student in school, many of us probably had a ‘learner’ mindset. We recognise that we don’t know many things and rely on teachers to learn new things. As we get older and acquire more knowledge and experience, some of us start to adopt a ‘knower’ mindset.

Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

The good thing is, no one is an absolute knower or learner. We are usually somewhere on the continuum between ‘knower’ and ‘learner’. Instead of asking if a person is a knower or learner, perhaps we can ask, “In which areas of your life are you being a ‘Knower’ and in which areas are you being a ‘Learner’?”

As we start to have a ‘learner’ mindset across all areas in our life, it may feel uncomfortable at first. But as we continue to look at things as a learner, we will begin to take in new possibilities and experience the joys of learning.

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