I really enjoy having conversations with people from different cultures because it opens my eyes to new ideas, new foods, new religious beliefs and different worldviews. Being open-minded is one of the traits that I learned at UNC-Charlotte and it is one that I am most proud of having learned. This past weekend our little blog passed 3000 followers, a feat I never could have imagined when starting this 7 months ago!
There is a large percentage of my readers from other countries and it has been very neat to learn about new cultures and political situations. Differing opinions can cause conflict though and having the right mindset is crucial. When I have talked of being open-minded in the past I asked lots of questions and one of those questions was: do you go into conversations with the willingness to have your position changed or do you go into a conversation to defend your position to the death? So with that said here are some Key Principles You Need to Know About Being Open-Minded:
I prefer to listen to folks and allow myself to stick to my convictions, but also understand that there is the possibility that I have been wrong or held an uninformed opinion.
I think too many times people go into discussions presupposing what the other will say or only listening in order to form rebuttals. And this is a mistake that robs most people of learning.
I do not look at accepting that I could be wrong as weakness! On the contrary, it is strength! To put oneself in the position to have your opinion or position changed is to say I do not know everything. I do not presume to have more knowledge than I really do, therefore I am open to learn, I am open to experience and I am open to have my mind changed.
How do you approach debate or conversation? Listen to argue or listen to learn? Don’t answer quickly. Stop and think. Are you waiting anxiously for others to shut up so you can interject your opinion? Or do you let people complete their thought and listen intently to what is being said?
The reason I say not to answer quickly is in my 43 years on this planet I can count on 1 hand the people I know that are truly open to have their mind or opinion changed during debate. And I have a lot of friends!
I challenge you to challenge yourself to start listening with the willingness to have your opinion changed. This does not imply that your opinion will be changed, but it does mean you are willing to consider other options or possibilities. Just a thought for a Monday…
Open your mind, open your world!