Keeping an Open Mind

Learning Objectives

Describe strategies to keep an open mind while listening.

It is critical to keep an open mind when listening. Keeping an open mind refers to the ability to listen to what is said as it is said. This act allows the person to shed any barriers because you are willing to listen to the other person unencumbered.

Listening to a point of view does not mean that you are adopting that point of view. It means that you are listening to what is said and learning about a new perspective even if you don’t agree. Sometimes, this results in causing emotions to surface. If this is the case, you can recognize that emotion, ask to pause the conversation, step away, or write down the point that upsets you and return to the conversation. You do not have to deny your emotions; you can explore these at a later time. You will find that having an open mind helps with reducing these feelings.

Yuki attended a lecture at a nearby library. The topic was of interest to her so she arranged for a babysitter and made time to attend. Yuki knew before she went that the topic had two ways of going. One direction would be to challenge her own belief system and the other would reinforce her belief system. Even so, Yuki decided to go to learn about other perspectives. Thus, she arrived at the event with an open mind that allowed her to listen attentively to what was said even though the topic did not resonate with her belief system. In fact, the speaker challenged her as Yuki thought it might.

As can be seen, having an open mind assisted with creating an attitude that allowed Yuki to listen actively to the speaker. It did not mean that she had to change her beliefs or behave differently. It did give her a better idea as to what someone who believes differently than her thinks, which is a positive outcome.