Why Exposure to Different Perspectives Leads To Growth [And How To Become More Open-Minded]10 min read

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In moments of heated arguments, I’m usually tempted to let my emotions take over and assume that my belief and perspective are second to none. 

However, I realize this approach is flawed, as it limits my ability to understand and appreciate diverse viewpoints. – because each person’s perception of an event is unique and nuanced. 

This article is about how to be more open-minded; and in it, we will talk about;

  • why it’s important to be open-minded, 
  • and how accepting different opinions can help you grow as a person, and improve your relationship with others. 

And so much more. 

But first, let’s define two underlying ideas that are relevant to this piece. 

What Is Belief And Value [And How Do They Affect You]? 

Belief and value are closely related. Belief is the acceptance or conviction of something to be true or real, while value is the worth or importance you assign to someone or something. Together, they make up the foundation of your ideologies and influence your actions and decisions.

However, your beliefs and values are not set in stone; they can (will) change depending on where you are, who you’re with, and what’s happening around you. Hence, not everyone is going to agree with every belief and value. This is because humans constantly discuss, evaluate, and propose new shared beliefs, which can shift societal opinions. 

For instance, in the past, people used to think that men and women should have different roles in society (with those of men being more important and rewarding). But now, the common belief and value is that everyone should have equal opportunities, regardless of their gender. 

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in” 

– Alan Alda

The Dangers Of Holding Onto Fixed Beliefs and Perceptive in an Ever-Changing World

Holding onto fixed beliefs and perceptions can provide stability, a sense of identity, and direction/purpose; but like fishing in a small pond when you have an entire ocean to explore – it can limit your growth and hinder your ability to learn and evolve. It is dangerous for several reasons. Here are a few:

Stagnation and Inability to Adapt: 

Clinging too tightly to your beliefs and impressions often stagnates your ability to think critically;  and restricts you from exploring ideas outside your territory. This results in the inability to adapt to different possibilities – which can be detrimental in a world that is constantly evolving. As the saying goes, “A mind is like a parachute – it doesn’t work if it’s not open.”

Also Read: The Role Of Critical Thinking In Seeking The Truth. [+11 Critical Thinking Tools]

Conflict and Division with Others: 

Conflicts can arise when people become too passionate about their beliefs and disregard the rights and choices of others. This can be like two porcupines attempting to embrace – resulting in more prickly situations. This often leads to tension and division among those who hold differing views. 

Stagnation in Personal Development: 

Thinking the same way and refusing to consider new ideas, stops you from learning and developing personally. It’s similar to having an anchor tied to your legs that prevents you from moving forward easily. 

Inaccurate beliefs and values: 

Nothing is static; including your beliefs and values. What you consider true today might no longer be accurate tomorrow. Inaccurate beliefs and values can lead to a flawed sense of morality and judgment of reality. Like a fashion trend from the 90s. Reinforcing false or defending outdated ideas can be foolish, embarrassing, and unintelligent – I am sure you won’t want to be caught wearing bell bottoms in a skinny jeans world. 

Recommended: You’re a Product of Your Beliefs [This Is How To Ensure Your Beliefs Are True And Helpful].

Inflexibility and resisting change:

If you are not flexible in your thought process, you could potentially overlook prospects and struggle to generate creative responses. You might miss out on good job opportunities, stop thriving in your career, and have trouble getting along with others. 

For example, some people didn’t believe in Bitcoin at first because a digital currency sounded too good to be real. But keeping your thoughts fluid and open to new information, can help you avoid being left behind and find success in a rapidly changing world. 

“It is never too late to give up your prejudices”

– Henry David Thoreau

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Why Open-mindedness And Respect for Different Perspectives Are Important.

Being open-minded means you’re ready to accept new ideas without being biased. It’s a useful quality that can help you avoid making quick and incorrect judgments about others. 

Conversely, narrow-mindedness can create confusion and make you judge people too quickly. It wouldn’t be surprising if you turned out to be mistaken about that individual. Because it takes time and critical thinking to reveal the truth. It’s like when you see someone with glasses, and you assume they’re a geek, but they’re actually having an eye problem. 

Being perceptive means you’re aware of the things going on around you and the feelings of others. It’s essential because it allows you to understand that people are not your clones or minions. People are unique individuals shaped by many things like their family, culture, and experiences. Everyone has their thoughts and beliefs, and that’s okay. 

Respect other people’s beliefs and be open to different perspectives. This is because someone thinking differently from you doesn’t mean they’re wrong. It’s like enjoying different kinds of music. You might love rock, but your friend might prefer hip-hop. And that’s fine because everyone has their preferences. By being open-minded and sensitive, we can make the world less intolerant and more understanding. 

Besides, variety can be beautiful as opposed to uniformity which can be boring.

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change”

– Albert Einstein

Also Read: How Confirmation Bias Can Impact Your WorldView; And 4 Strategies To Overcome or Minimize it

How To Be More Open-minded And Consider A Different Perspective 

To be more open-minded and receptive to diverse perspectives:

Become a good listener

It’s natural to have the urge to speak up and share your insights with others. However, if everyone is focused on talking instead of listening, there may not be any meaningful conversation at all.

To do this:

  • Focus your attention on the person speaking and refrain from getting distracted by other things, such as your phone.
  • Avoid interrupting the speaker, even if you disagree with what they’re saying.
  • Utilize open-ended questions such as; “Can you tell me more about that?” or “What was your experience like?” to encourage further elaboration and discussion.
  • Provide nonverbal cues, such as nodding or offering feedback, to indicate that you’re actively listening to what the speaker is saying.

Also Read: What Is Emotional Intelligence And How To Develop It (In 4 Steps)?

Avoid Judgment And Criticism

When discussing sensitive topics or beliefs that differ from yours; 

  • Share your view and avoid personal attacks. Stick to discussing the issue at hand and avoid attacking the person’s character or beliefs (aka, Ad hominem fallacy).
  • Use respectful words that do not offend or belittle the other person’s beliefs. Words like “I think” or “I believe” will do.

Cultivate Empathy   

Empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person) is a key component of open-mindedness. Remember,  everyone is unique – shaped by many things like their family, culture, and experiences. 

To do this; 

  • Understand that other people have their own reasons for their opinions.
  • Read diverse literature for a broad and deeper understanding of the other person’s viewpoint. 
  • Seek out different cultural experiences. 

Employ Curiosity and Respect

Understand: that you might be wrong or have little or no knowledge of what the next person is saying. So, when talking about controversial topics or beliefs, such as religion, sexism, and politics, have an attitude of curiosity and respect. 

“If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed”

– Marcus Aurelius

Also Read: How To Ignite Your Creativity, Originality, And Profitable Well-being Through Curiosity.

Tips For Making A Strong Case Without Creating Undue Tension. 

What happens when you come across someone who has a different opinion? 

Most times, you get defensive or dismissive, because it can be tough to see things from their point of view. But that’s not always helpful and often stems from your insecurity about your intelligence and difficulty in keeping an open mind and considering other viewpoints. 

Instead of cursing or attacking the other person, do this; 

Be clear and concise 

Avoid using jargon and clearly state your beliefs or perceptions simply and straightforwardly. For instance, you may say “I believe countries with one religion are more peaceful”, rather than saying; “My postulation surmises that monocultural states are inherently predisposed towards greater serenity and tranquility.” 

Use examples and stories 

To effectively convey your beliefs or perceptions, try using relatable stories or personal experiences. This can help establish a stronger connection with the next person and make your message resonate more deeply. 

Stick to the facts 

Instead of going all “Real Housewives” with personal attacks and emotional appeals. Use evidence and objective data to support your argument and avoid making a fool of yourself.

Acknowledge the other person’s accurate point of view

Accept factual points and celebrate their perspective when accurate. This can help to foster a more constructive dialogue and increase the likelihood of reaching a mutually satisfactory outcome.

Find a common ground 

Find common ground and use it as a springboard for a fruitful conversation. It’s like discovering you both love pizza and using that as a foundation for a discussion about the most exotic foods. 

Know when to stop

Ceasefire when you can find a settlement or when there is much to lose, like Friendship and your peace. Agree to disagree when it seems like an endless cycle of verbal warfare. 

Remember, the essence of communication is to foster helpful and respectful relationships. If you must convince someone, it’s important you speak well and not be a jerk. Make your case without being an unnecessary pain in the butt. Besides, most things are based on personal opinions and do not have a definite right or wrong answer.

Also Read: The Brutal Truth About Being Good: Ethical Dilemma

Conclusion: “Be More Open-minded”

The world progresses due to the diversity of ideas and the willingness to consider them. Most things in the world do not revolve around personal beliefs or fragile egos. So it’s reasonable to approach situations with an open mind and embrace different views to promote growth and progress in ourselves and society.

A mindful self-help writer and photographer

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