The modern office is full of individuals from other backgrounds, cultures and life experiences. To succeed, you have to be open minded about thoughts and behaviors. When supervisors and employees do not maintain an open mind, the work environment could be poisoned by biases and intolerance, leading to miscommunication and mistakes.
Most of us are brought up with a set of beliefs and values and, throughout our lives, tend to surround ourselves with people who share the same values and beliefs. Therefore, it can be difficult when we’re faced with ideas that challenge our own and, though we may wish to be open-minded, we may struggle with the act of it from time to time.
Benefits of Being Open-Minded
Letting go of control. When you open your mind, you free yourself from having to be in complete control of your thoughts. You allow yourself to experience new ideas and thoughts and you challenge the beliefs you currently have. It can be very liberating to look at the world through an open mind.
Experiencing changes. Opening up your mind to new ideas allows you to the opportunity to change what you think and how you view the world. Now, this doesn’t mean you necessarily will change your beliefs, but you have the option to when you think with an open mind.
Making yourself vulnerable. One of the scariest (and greatest) things about seeing the world through an open mind is making yourself vulnerable. In agreeing to have an open-minded view of the world, you’re admitting you don’t know everything and that there are possibilities you may not have considered. This vulnerability can be both terrifying and exhilarating.
Making mistakes. Making mistakes doesn’t seem like it would be much of a benefit, but it truly is. When you open your mind and allow yourself to see things from others’ perspectives, you allow yourself not only to recognize potential mistakes you’ve made, but also to make new mistakes. Doesn’t sound like much fun, but it’s a great thing to fall and get back up again.
Strengthening yourself. Open-mindedness provides a platform on which you can build, piling one idea on top of another. With an open mind you can learn about new things and you can use the new ideas to build on the old ideas. Everything you experience can add up, strengthening who you are and what you believe in. It’s very hard to build on experiences without an open mind.
Gaining confidence. When you live with an open mind, you have a strong sense of self. You are not confined by your own beliefs, nor are you confined by the beliefs of others. For that reason, you are able to have and gain confidence as you learn more and more about the world around you. Open-mindedness helps you to learn and grow, strengthening your belief in yourself.
Being honest. There is an honesty that comes with an open mind because being open-minded means admitting that you aren’t all-knowing. It means believing that whatever truth you find might always have more to it than you realize. This understanding creates an underlying sense of honesty that permeates the character of anyone who lives with an open mind.
here is how to being open-minded in the workplace:
1. Practice Your Listening Skills
Let your employees know you hear what they say to you, advises the Iowa State University Extension. Show you listen by asking them questions about what they share. Refrain from giving advice without first asking for their suggestions and input.
Commend them in front of the whole company for successes. Let your staff members know you share in and celebrate their accomplishments.
Tolerance means treating everyone with the same respect that you expect. It means allowing everyone to be comfortable at work, and not having to fear the judgments of your peers for being different or having different opinions. Tolerance in the workplace promotes creativity, because everyone feels free to express an opinion and share insights, according to Mind Tools, an online career resource founded by leadership author James Manktelow. Tolerance in the workplace is vital for effective teamwork, innovation and productivity.
An open-minded workforce is one that accepts a wide range of cultural experiences that can only help your company compete in a global economy. For example, coworkers can share their views and knowledge about other cultures that can help you land contracts and build relationships with outside vendors and clients. When you’re open to diversity in the workplace, you broaden your potential customer base and develop an internal culture that’s focused on learning. A diverse workforce keeps you aware of what’s going on in the world and how your company’s decisions affect customers from all backgrounds.
Nothing is static in the modern workplace, where technology often drives changes in the way business is conducted and jobs are fulfilled. When you’re open minded, you not only respect the ideas of other people, you also accept technological changes and new ideas about how to better perform your job. For example, if a new IT worker changes the software you use, the change should be greeted with an open mind rather than resented because it takes you out of your normal routine. Accept the challenge of adapting to the change and focus on using it to your benefit. Companies have a hard time succeeding without open-minded leaders and workers willing to embrace change.
While open mindedness is a positive attribute, there is a difference between tolerance and apathy. Certain behaviors, such as workplace bullying, are intolerable, and should be called out. If you or your team is being harmed because of another person’s actions, you need to have it stopped. An appreciation for being open minded does not mean you shouldn’t challenge actions that undermine your team’s morale and progress. Report the negative behavior to your supervisor or talk to the offending person to let her know her actions will not be accepted by the group.
- Mind Tools: Tolerance in the Workplace
- Aveta Business Institute: The Best Employment Advice for the Workplace
- Evan Carmichael: How to Be Open-Minded to new Ideas