If you're the first to always throw cold water on ideas — either yours or those belonging to others — it's time to stop and ask yourself why.
I don't advocate giving false praise or telling everyone their idea is fantastic when it's not. There is, however, a serious difference between giving warranted, beneficial feedback that someone may not want to hear and shutting down an idea before it even has a chance to start.
Being a critical thinker and having a critical spirit are two different things. The first requires an open mind, the second refuses one. Getting into a pattern of throwing ideas out before listening to or examining them is toxic. Keeping an open mind is something that the best leaders and the most creative artists have in common.
Originally published June 2012