What Exactly Does Open-mindedness Mean?
Open-mindedness is the characteristic of being willing to consider new and different ideas, opinions and arguments you are usually not aligned with.
Being open-minded is difficult because we have sets of values and beliefs that we were brought up with. Then, of course, we have different sets of values and beliefs that we pick along the way of life’s journey – the ones we weren’t brought up with per se but are kinda based on them. What makes open-mindedness more difficult is that we tend to surround ourselves with people who have the same or similar sets of beliefs.
While it’s important to have core values and beliefs – I have mine, it’s more important to always have an open mind. I always say that core values shouldn’t just be based on ‘laid down rules’ or prejudices but on values like integrity, honesty, hard work, loyalty, etc. because this way it will be easier to be open-minded. Laid down rules in this context could also be biased (unconscious or not) towards a race, gender, orientation, etc.
We have all met that one person who is old and set in his/her ways and if we’re being honest, it’s stifling staying with such a person. It’s just exhausting staying around such people. And honestly, most people are like that.
There are a lot of disadvantages of being closed-minded, but the most disadvantage is that it stagnates you. Not being receptive of or open to new suggestions and ideas hinders your growth and success. Why? This is because we grow by learning new things every day and we can’t learn these new things if we are set in our ways. Secondly, we grow and become better versions of ourselves due to the kind of people we surround ourselves with – the people we listen to, the people we read and the people we speak with.
Different people come into our lives in different ways and we will always learn something new from them if only we are open-minded because more than half of these people may not share your beliefs. We grow through these many different people and if you decide to not be tolerant of them because they dared to not share your ideas, you will remain at one spot.
Benefits of Being Open-Minded
1) Growth: If you read the two previous paragraphs, then you will know that growth is a benefit you will reap from being open-minded. We improve on ourselves and learn new ways when are open to new opinions.
2) Gaining Greater Insights: Keeping an open mind helps you have greater insights in situations and consider new things, opinions, and ideas you otherwise wouldn’t have. And this helps you put things in perspective.
3) Experiencing New Things: When you start opening your mind to different ideas and opinions, you will start experiencing things you normally wouldn’t have experienced if you were closed off of different ideas.
4) Self-Confidence: When you have an open mind, you have a strong sense of who you are; of self. Because of your core values and your ability to accept and be receptive to new ideas, you will be more confident in yourself – the choices you make, and in how you view the world.
5) Mental Strength: Iron sharpens iron. When you have an open mind and are more receptive of new ideas, opinions, arguments, etc. you build on what you already know, becoming mentally stronger. Your mind becomes sharper because your experiences and knowledge continue to build up.
6) Continuous Learning: Opening your mind to different things, new ideas, and opinions make room for you to learn new things. When you view things differently, you will learn a new thing. Challenging your beliefs helps you learn new things about yourself, the people around you and the world at large.
7) Positive Thinking: Closed-minded people are pessimistic about almost everything. Open-mindedness helps you to feel optimistic about life and your future.
Factors Influencing Open-Mindedness
1) Pride: When someone is open-minded, it just means that he/she has accepted that he/she doesn’t know all. Which is true, no one knows all but many people find it difficult to understand that. Their pride comes in the way.
2) Personality: Some personality types can be more open to new experiences and tend to engage more in self-examination which are both characteristics of open-mindedness.
3) History: If someone had opened his mind to something new and then has a bad experience, he is more likely to not be receptive of new ideas and may prefer to stick to what he already knows.
4) Expertise: When people feel that they are more knowledgeable in some areas than the average person, they tend to not be open-minded about some things especially if it’s in their area of expertise.
How to Be More Open-Minded
1) Be Compassionate: In an argument, always try to genuinely understand your opponent’s point of view. We tend to believe that our view is the right one which may or may not be true. Always have in mind that arguments are not always meant to be won. Whenever you are in an argument, try to be neutral.
2) Be Inquisitive: There’s no end to learning. Always ask questions and be open-minded enough to receive the answers. Ask questions that you sincerely want an answer to.
3) Shun the Confirmation Bias: People tend to be more receptive of things when it supports their existing arguments. Look for genuine answers and stop paying attention to things that confirm your existing beliefs and discounts anything that challenges what we think or know.
Related: 12 Types of Unconscious Bias
4) Be Humble: Do you remember Kendrick Lamar’s hit Be Humble? You need to be humble enough and know that you don’t know everything even in your area of expertise. Do not let pride hinder you from being open-minded.
5) Take Your Time: Do not be in a haste to discard any new argument. When you hear something new, you tend to disagree if it doesn’t align with what you already know. Don’t do this. Take a few moments to consider it instead.
Being open-minded is difficult and you will need to be deliberate about it. Being open-minded doesn’t mean that you should let go of what you believe, or your ideas, but it provides a platform for you to grow on what you already know or if the case calls for it, totally change your beliefs.
Intelligent people are open-minded, are you intelligent?