It’s happened to all of us. You’ll be having a regular conversation with a friend, and then suddenly, it goes sour. Fast. You’re arguing and disagreeing, and while you recognize that the argument isn’t over something very serious, it’s already going downhill.
Learning to be more open-minded can help you recognize when others hold different opinions than you. Then you can assess whether to continue a conversation peaceably or make a stand in a calmer, more collected way based on your own values.
Surprisingly, there’s even scientific evidence that suggests being open-minded also boosts happiness and alters one’s mood and creativity.
What is an open minded person like?
An open minded person is someone who is able to consider the thoughts and beliefs of others as well as their own. They have the ability to consider, question and empathize with others, instead of only making judgements based on their own ideals. They don’t necessarily agree with the opinions of others, but they at least consider them, with an open mindset.
Open Minded Examples
A person may show that they’re open minded by the following examples:
- Listening more than they talk,
- Asking considered questions of others,
- Taking the time to consider the responses of others,
- Considering things from others points of view (ability to ‘walk in other’s shoes’),
- Researching further information from reputable sources,
- Questioning their own thoughts and beliefs (ask “Is it true?”, “How can I be sure it’s true?”)
- Not having to have the last word in a conversation or argument,
- Be open and willing to change their opinion, thought or belief after doing the above.
It’s important to remember though, that people can be considered ‘open minded’ about a particular area of life – for example money, parenting, health etc and be completely closed minded in other areas – for example, politics, religion etc. I’m sure you can think of some ‘real life’ examples!
Benefits of Being Open Minded
Being open minded doesn’t mean you are flaky or a push-over. It means that you are adaptable, open and empathetic.
You can also be open minded and still disagree with others. You may consider all the above examples and still disagree, and that’s okay. The best part is that you at least considered how the other person thought or felt and took the time to value their perspective. It’s okay to respectively disagree with others.
The main benefits of being open minded include:
- The ability to get along better with others in relationships, workplaces and in general public,
- Personal growth due to the possibilities that can open up that you hadn’t otherwise considered,
- Enormous learning opportunities,
- A greater sense of community and belonging,
- A more mindful, optimistic mindset,
- Less victim mentality.
How To Be More Open Minded
Here are our favorite ways to become more open-minded:
Find and Identify Your Points of Improvement vs Your Boundaries
One of the hardest things about being open-minded is identifying when you’re being close-minded vs. cementing a boundary. While you shouldn’t be mean to someone for offering a different opinion on favorite colors, exiting a conversation when someone is being offensive is a way to respect your own boundaries.
If you’re on the path to becoming more open-minded, it can be helpful to list areas in which you want to improve, as well as a list of subjects you don’t want to bend on (though at least consider it!). Subjects you’re trying to be more open-minded about are ones that you have a strong opinion on but know that others may have legitimate reasons to disagree.
Listing these out can help you explore and stretch your comfort zone when it comes to opinions and thoughts. These lists can get extremely personal, but remember that they are meant to help you and you alone clarify where your boundaries are and where you’d like to be more lenient.
If you want to check your implicit bias, a tool such as this can be a great starting point.
Ask More Questions
One of the best ways to become open-minded is to expose yourself to other opinions.
If there’s something you disagree with but are wondering if you simply need to be more tolerant of, give it a search online and read a few opinions on both sides.
For example, if your favorite pet is a dog, you may get angry if someone tells you that cats are superior pets. Instead of blowing up at them or immediately conceding the point, take some time to do a bit of role-swapping and critical thinking. Why do you like dogs? Perhaps because they are cute, loving, and loyal? If you’ve only had bad experiences with cats, you’ll struggle to see their appeal. However, a quick Google search reveals that people like cats because they are beautiful, playful, and independent.
While you may still value your puppy more, you can recognize that these qualities are valued by others and become more open-minded in the process.
Whilst this is a simple example, expand this process to other areas of life and you’re well on your way to becoming open-minded and able to have more constructive conversations and debates.
Ask questions of others and of yourself. Question the beliefs that you grew up with and the media that you view regularly. Once you’ve asked questions, also consider “Is this true? How do I know it’s true?’ and the answers can be surprising. Research more if you need to and keep asking questions!
Being Open-Minded Means Being Empathetic
At the end of the day, your reasons for wanting to become open-minded may vary. Maybe you want to get along better with current friends, make new ones, or simply want to feel less angry when individuals disagree with you?
At its core, you don’t have to agree with someone completely to be open-minded. You only have to be empathetic and do your best to understand their perspective as well as your own.
Take your time to identify your own boundaries and areas of improvement. Expose yourself to multiple opinions and reputable news sources, and have real heart-to-hearts with friends who are willing to be open-minded with you too.
Ready to learn more about how to live a productive, healthier, and happier life?:
- How to Become A More Goal-Oriented Person
- How To Make A Bucket List That Excites & Inspires You
- How to Let Insults Just Roll Off Your Back
- How to Deal with Toxic Friends
- How to Overcome Fear in Life: 3 Useful Tactics