Value 7 – Openness and Understanding

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This group of posts are meant as inspiration and motivation for you to work on making your values and goals achievable. Sometimes we want something for ourselves, but we set the bar so high that we strive all our lives and never seem to be able to reach our goals. I don’t want to spend my life striving for something that I may reach when Im 80 when I can change the wording and enjoy reaching it everyday. I’ll tell you how.

Being open to others is not a big effort for me, but it is very important. Having lived and traveled in many parts of the world, I have met all kinds of people and made friends across culture, nationality, religion, skin color and political understanding. Had I not been open minded, I would not have had the close relationships I have today with some of my best friends in the world.

I remember a class in Singapore when my two, now very dear, friends and I were in charge of editing all of our classmates’ reports and compile it all to one coherent project. We had taken a pile each and met to discuss our corrections. This was my first real confrontation with my Scandinavian straight-forward mindset and I will never forget it. They told me to wrap my words and put it lightly, not just tell the student straight out that using wikipedia as an academic source is not acceptable. I was baffled at first, but it was a huge learning experience as to navigating in Asia and working with Asian people. Had I been closed minded, I would probably had said ‘well, this is the way I do it, learn to live with it’ – and the two wonderful darlings would not have been my friends to this day.

You see, it’s not just about being open to others, it has to do with what you seek in the interaction. Late Steven Covey talks about it too in his book ‘7 habits of highly effective people’. He says ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood’. There is almost always a reason for people’s reactions and the reasons can be very hard to guess. If you keep asking until you truly understand the other person, you can avoid many disputes along the way.

Personally, I live my value Openness and Understanding whenever I meet other people with an open mind without judging and without labelling them. I also live this value whenever I seek to understand another person’s actions or words before I judge any behavior or exclamation.

Even though being open minded and seeking to understand comes quite natural to me, I value it in my life and practise it everyday. It has made me a more soft and loving person and I hardly ever find a reason to push my opinion through. Try practising it, it may open doors or give you interesting experiences while you’re at it.

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