In situations that challenge how we identify ourselves ie. as a Republican, a socialist or simply just knowing a lot, it can be very hard to let go and understand opposing evidence or points of view. But this is often necessary both to develop our point of view and understand others better. Here are three ways to become more open-minded.
1) Don’t Let Labels Control You
Psychologist Carol Dweck found that students who are told they’re smart are less likely to attempt extra tasks. They don’t want to show themselves up. On the other hand, students who are praised for putting in effort are more likely to try out new tasks.
Not being labeled as “smart” seems to have helped the second group of students remain open-minded to try out new tasks. Rather than believing they were one thing, their belief in a more transitory sense of self meant they were more willing to explore new opportunities. Those with firm beliefs on their abilities however were paralysed for fear of risking their identity. The takeaway: Not labeling yourself as one thing or another will keep you open-minded and ready for growth.
2) Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood
Most people tend to listen only so they can reply, not so they can understand. This means that crucial points of what’s being said are often overlooked to the convenience of what the listener is already thinking. To avoid this, Stephen R. Covey recommends we do the opposite. By focusing on understanding other people before inflicting ourselves on them, we not only have the chance to properly understand them and enrich our own perspectives- they’ll also probably like and respect us more for appreciating what they have to say.
3) Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Psychologist Jeffrey Gardere recommends trying out more things to get become more open-minded. Rather than only spending time among people you can identify with and agree with, in activities you’re already good at or even listening to music you like, he recommends mixing it up. You could do this by chatting with people who have different politcial views to you, come from a different background or even by listening to a different genre of music.
By getting out of your comfort zone, you’ll understand that your point of view/ way of doing things is not the only respectable way out there making you more humble. You may also find a new hobby, passion or even some new friends in the process.