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 6000 followers, a feat I never could have imagined when starting this 11 months ago!
There is a large percentage of my readers from other countries and it has been neat to learn about new cultures and political situations. Differing opinions can cause conflict 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 enter into conversations with the willingness to have your position/opinion changed or do you go into a conversation to defend your position to the death?
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 or that I have missed out on another perspective.
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 many people of learning. The desire to be right overwhelms and prevents the possibility to be open.
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 swayed 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? To argue? Or 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?
If you are interested in doing a bit of self-inspection, pay close attention to conversations you have with friends on politics or religion. I have found that those interested in learning ask more questions and express less opinion.
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.
Open your mind, open your world!