“I must respect the opinions of others even if I disagree with them.” – Herbert Henry Lehman
We come to our decisions and conclusions based on our thoughts, beliefs and assumptions. The other party comes to their decisions and conclusions based on their thoughts, beliefs and assumptions. When we fail to recognize that, we are depreciating their foundation. Not everyone shares the same philosophies, life experiences or opinions.
There is a lot we don’t understand about others. There is a lot we might never understand about others. We haven’t walked in their shoes, we haven’t lived in their flesh. We can imagine what it might be like, attribute things, assume things, but no one will ever know the joys and hardships a person goes through except for the person who goes through them. Furthermore, our understanding is limited to what the person shares with us or shows us.
If we wrote off everything we didn’t understand, everything we were unfamiliar with, everything that did not align with our beliefs, values and assumptions, what a huge loss that would be.
Once upon a time, people thought the world was flat, then someone came along and said it was round. He was written off as being the crazy one, turns out he was the genius. The same has happened with innumerable ancient Greeks; Socrates was executed, many other unconventional thinkers were persecuted by authorities and society. Now, their contributions in their respected fields are invaluable and we repent having missed the opportunity to speak with them and learn from them and loathe having to resort to our (mis)interpretations of their genius.
Let the world and the people you meet fill you with the wisdom of their experience. Build filters along the way, establish boundaries to keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out, but be honest, be open minded and be willing to learn, from people of all walks of life, all ages, all ethnicities, all dispositions.
We are not omniscient, no one expects us to be, but just because we are not all knowing, doesn’t mean we have to be ignorant. We can’t absorb much with a closed mind and we can’t learn from others if we dismiss what they have to say.
There’s a lot we don’t know, pretending like we know it all, have experienced it all, have better experience of it isn’t going to help our personal or professional development. Don’t be afraid of disagreements, they are opportunities for greater understanding and you don’t have to accept what is offered, but keep an open mind, someone might put something worthwhile in there!
Open your eyes, open your mind, open your heart and empty your cup.