Five Signs You May Be Unteachable

Good Morning! Here’s a newsflash… In order to learn, we must be teachable! So how teachable are you? It’s amazing how often we get stuck because we think we know it all! The fact is there are things we all need to learn and things, yes, we need to unlearn.


This month I’m going through the book of Proverbs in my quiet time. The book challenges me to grow in wisdom. To listen. To learn. I’ve been thinking about how often I am not a teachable as I should be.

Here are five signs you may be unteachable.

  1. You’re talking too much. Remember that old saying, “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we could listen twice as much as we talk.” It’s true! Dominant conversationalists have a know-it-all demeanor and fail to really hear others. In fact, even when they are “listening” they are thinking about what they want to say next. We need to listen to learn. Listening is not the pause between our next statements.

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” Proverbs 18:2 (ESV)

  1. You’re not asking questions. Many leaders are quick to give advice, but resist seeking it. When we ask questions, we invite participation and insight. Never underestimate the importance of another person’s perspective, even when we don’t agree with them. Always ask BEFORE forging ahead. Their answer may be better than yours!

 “…Oh, if only I had listened! If only I had not demanded my own way! Oh, why wouldn’t I take advice? Why was I so stupid?” Proverbs 5:12,13 (LB)

“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.”
― Meister Eckhart

  1. You’re ignoring criticism. No one likes a negative comment and honestly, un-asked-for advice usually comes across as criticism. To be teachable, we need to stop being defensive. Remind yourself that you do make mistakes and you have limited knowledge and abilities. Yes, you! So listen to the critic, as painful as it may seem. The truth often comes from the person who gets under your skin.

“If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored.” Proverbs 13:18 (NLT)

“Coachable people seek out those who speak truth to them, even if it is a painful truth, because it protects them and it makes them a better person and leader.”
― Gary Rohrmayer

  1. You’re doing nothing new. If we are learning, we’re changing. We think differently. We have a new viewpoint. Sometimes this requires letting go of something we thought was right. We may need to unlearn what we have learned.

    What do these have in common?

    • the eight-track
    • the cassette deck
    • the CD player
    • bluetooth streaming

They all play music! However, they represent change. Don’t get stuck playing an eight-track player when you could be streaming your tunes. Do something new!

“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.” (Proverbs 9:9)

  1. You’re not admitting you’re wrong. Some people must be right, no matter what…even when they’re wrong. They never accept responsibility for failures but blame everyone and everything else. It’s okay to say, “I was wrong!” It doesn’t make you weak, it makes you stronger! When you admit you’re wrong, you show that you value relationships more than looking right. It builds trust and integrity.

“Do not be wise in your own eyes…’ Proverbs 3:7 (NIV)

“Keep honest people in your life so that you can stay grounded in the reality of your experiences. Don’t ever think you’ve arrived. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Humility is way more attractive than arrogance.”
-Dave Kraft


Do you have any signs of being unteachable? What is the hardest thing about being teachable for you? I’d love to hear from you!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Millie Cummins says:

    Thank you Randy.


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  3. Today, someone I respect used “unteachable” to describe me so I searched for how I might fix this and found your page. As much as it hurt I do find I’ve done all of these, especially when with this individual. I don’t think I do all of them all the time. There’s times where I have listened, asked question, said I don’t know…so there’s hope – some touchstones I can use to remind myself I have been teachable/what that looks like. A hard one for me (not sure it’s the hardest, but it’s the most consequential) is taking criticism. It’s hard to sort out what to listen to and what not to when you’re not sure what to believe, especially when you see things differently than the other person. Thank you for writing this…it is helpful for me, giving me some avenues to becoming more teachable.

    Liked by 1 person

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