Sep 232011
 

I know that many books on success and mindset suggest you avoid negative people. It’s true that it’s so much easier to maintain a positive attitude when you’re around people who are also positive. Unfortunately, some people interpret that idea to mean that they should only associate with people who agree with them.

I recently had an experience that illustrated how limiting that could be. I had a short exchange with a businessman who believed that everyone wanted to improve themselves and be better at their jobs. His business was based on that assumption and he worked to improve employees’ skills.

From my experience with clients, I felt that although people might want to be better, they didn’t always want to do what was needed to get there. As soon as I expressed that concept to the gentleman, he ended the discussion. By turning away from a contradictory opinion, he refused to open his mind to different viewpoints. If he had, he might have been able to use them to improve his business.

When you avoid opinions that conflict with yours, it indicates that you’re not really confident of your position. If others’ ideas can affect you that easily, you’re not grounded in your own. Listening to what others think, and why, broadens your understanding so you can modify your ideas and help them grow stronger roots. It can also open the door to inspiration, which will allow you to reach greater heights.

So when you encounter someone with an opposing opinion, listen with an open mind. This is true in business, politics, relationships, and life. Avoid “hardening of the attitudes” and consider what they’re saying. It may change your ideas or strengthen your position. Only by associating with people who have varying opinions and experiences can you have a broader and deeper perspective.

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