Work Traits

Open-mindedness and Tolerance

Open-mindedness and tolerance mean you appreciate and accept styles, values and rules that are different to your own.
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What is open-mindedness and tolerance?

Open-mindedness and tolerance means being respectful and accepting of others’ approaches in business, even if they go against what you think or feel. 

Reluctant to impose standards, rules or modes of conduct upon others, you’re more likely to go with the flow and accept people and their behaviors  as they are.

You’re willing to compromise and accept different ways of doing things for the sake of team cohesiveness and unity. As long as your team achieves its goals, you’re not too concerned with how things are done.

We call it: Tolerance

Level of acceptance and appreciation for the unique styles, values and rules of each person including your own.

As right as you think you are about your own beliefs and experiences, others feel the same way about their own. You'll learn more than you ever imagined if you see the world through beliefs rather than right and wrong.

Emily Maroutian

Leaders known for open-mindedness and tolerance

Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers

Derek Sivers is an American entrepreneur, writer, speaker and musician. He started the music distribution service CDBaby in 1997 which eventually sold ten years later for around $24m - the majority of which he gave away to musical charities. 

Sivers leads an unconventional, curious life, and writes about his experiences doing pretty much everything differently. He’s driven by a curiosity towards other humans and how we can do things compassionately. 

He notes the perspective-enhancing power of listening to people from different cultures, and how it helps us learn about our own decision making: “I ask questions and observe. On the surface and from a distance, I see their actions. But deeply and closely, I see my reactions."

Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates is an American philanthropist and former general manager at Microsoft. She co-founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with her husband, which went on to become the world’s largest private charitable organization. 

Gates’ objective in leading the foundation is to enhance healthcare, reduce extreme poverty, and increase educational opportunities for people around the world. Her worldview leaves no room for intolerance, unfairness or prejudice.

Gates believes in equal opportunities for all, no matter what their background: "We started our foundation because we believe we have a real opportunity to help advance equity around the world, to help make sure that, no matter where a person is born, he or she has the chance to live a healthy, productive life."

Melinda Gates
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The Dalai Lama

The 14th Dalai Lama (also known as His Holiness the Dalai Lama or Tenzin Gyatso) is the current foremost spiritual leader of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. Holding his title since 1940, he’s a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and is widely known as one of the most popular living world leaders. 

While his list of accolades and accomplishments is too long to cover, it’s clear he has inspired millions around the world to be compassionate, tolerant and open minded towards one another in the name of global harmony. 

He shares a valuable lesson in tolerating differences: “Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.”

The benefits of open-mindedness and tolerance

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You’re comfortable working across cultures in environments of uncertainty, due to your agile and adaptable character.

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When different plans are put on the table, you’re willing to listen to them and adjust your heading accordingly without conflict.

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Your sense of empathy and connectedness with others plays a crucial role in positive team dynamics.

The blind spots of open-mindedness and tolerance

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Too forgiving

Being too accepting of faults and overly lenient towards bad behaviors or problems can cause disruption in your organization.

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Unwilling to criticize

If you’re reluctant to criticize or let people go, you could retain them in your team longer than they make a valuable contribution for.

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The above issues can also cause you to avoid addressing issues early, allowing problems to simmer unseen until they’re too serious to ignore.

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How to be an open-minded and tolerant leader

1) Speak like an open-minded person.

Have you ever heard the phrase “different strokes for different folks”? Do you remember the person you heard say it? Chances are they were a pretty easy-going, accepting character. It might be worth thinking about the sort of language they used about other people.

Words like ‘respect’, ‘accept’ and ’tolerate’ are commonly used by these folks, and you’d do well to add them into your daily vocabulary. The more you use them, the more you’ll consider alternative viewpoints and accept people from backgrounds other than your own. Even if you don’t tolerate everything - and nobody should - you’ll at least begin to consider those things that you are okay with.

2) Check yourself when your opinions are challenged.

There might be situations where you prefer the status quo and don’t like someone coming in and telling you that you’re wrong or your opinion is outdated. It’s natural to have an emotional reaction to this, but it’s your opportunity to exercise some self-control.

You don’t have to understand everyone deeply or agree with everything they say. But you should rein in the negative feelings, take a few deep breaths, and take a moment to consider what your reaction should really be. Is it worth instigating conflict now? Or can you let this occasion slide for the sake of a harmonious environment? Sometimes you just have to swallow your pride, for the greater good.

3) Open dialogue as much as you can.

Not sure if you agree with someone? 

Talk it out. Ask questions. Seek understanding.

Being curious about people’s backgrounds or motivations is a sure-fire way to gain better understanding of where their thoughts are coming from. Having an open, respectful debate is much more useful than simmering resentment or fearful avoidance. 

If something or someone provokes a negative reaction from you, firstly examine your own feelings - where are they coming from? Then try to learn more by questioning politely. You never know - you might come to a satisfying compromise.

4) Expand your information diet.

It’s so easy to become blinkered to what’s really going on in today’s fast-paced world. Especially when we let algorithms deliver us only the media we agree with and like. But this doesn’t always work to our benefit.

Do you get your news from sources that reinforce your world view rather than challenge it? Could you try reading a few articles from ’the other side’? 

It might be painful, but spending a little time in the heads of your adversaries will help you understand them better, communicate with them, and maybe even make friends with them.

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