Be an active listener when people share their opinions or beliefs with you. Conversations are important, but sometimes just listening and really hearing what that person has to say can be even more beneficial.
Reading works to expand your knowledge on a vast span of subjects. Get your hands on as many books and articles that you can find and absorb the text like a sponge. Reading is personal, and by reading narratives from different perspectives you can begin to understand those perspectives in an intimate way.
Have compassion for the person sharing their viewpoint with you. It is important to understand the experience of others in order to understand their belief. Often times, altering opinions can lead to malicious arguments. If you find yourself in this situation, take a deep breath and try to understand the perspective of your opponent.
Having conversations with people of different beliefs can be scary, but the best way to understand them is to engage with those people. Go to forums and talk to people you may have never talked to before. Immerse yourself in the pool of knowledge and understanding that comes from living in a diverse community.
- Branch Out
Similar to engaging, branching out is critical in understanding another person’s belief. There is no way of knowing other beliefs even exist unless you start talking to people outside of your social circles. Be brave, maybe you will make a new friend.
- Embrace Challenge
Attempting to understand a belief that differs so greatly from your own can be difficult. You may wrestle with their ideas, or even question your own beliefs, but trying to understand another belief is critical in a diverse community. So face the challenge knowing it will make you wiser and a more compassionate friend, student, and member of the community.
- Keep an Open Mind
Sharing a personal belief takes courage. If someone decides to share their viewpoint with you, please do not invalidate it or immediately counter them. Accept what they have to say with an open and curious mind.
- Ask questions
Asking questions is essential to understanding another belief. However, remember that the people sharing their beliefs are human beings, not zoo animals. Their beliefs are valid and they are entitled to sharing them. If you have questions, ask them with respect. Treat them like any other person, not like a spectacle.
Before you oppose or argue against another viewpoint, reflect on what that person has shared. Think about what it means to you, and why you might have been so quick to judge. Beliefs are complex and they take significant reflection to understand.
A supportive environment helps nurture an environment where people are willing and encouraged to share their ideas. You should feel supported and also support the person sharing a different opinion. Beliefs are diverse, and you should support one another to share and understand the different viewpoints that this community of people has to offer.
By Dear Sam, student club at Andover