As individuals, we have a tendency to gravitate towards those who are similar to us. It’s more comfortable, we share the same views, and we can avoid awkward disagreements.
While, similar opinions are a common thing in friend groups, exposing yourself to new perspectives and people with different views from yourself can lead to personal growth and a more open mind.
According to an article by Forbes magazine, “Perspective is the way individuals see the world. It comes from their personal point of view and is shaped by life experiences, values, their current state of mind, the assumptions they bring into a situation, and a whole lot of other things.”
1. Challenges You to Think Critically
A quote from Psychology Today shares that, “perspective-taking is essential for a realistic assessment of common and opposed interests and an accurate assessment of their validity and relative merits.”
When you put yourself in a scenario where others are sharing a viewpoint that you do not agree with, you get to hear firsthand where they are coming from and why they feel this way.
Listening to one’s personal reasoning can be much more effective than what the news or social media says about that person’s side. For example, you may believe that someone chooses to identify with a specific political party because A but after talking to an individual of this party, you may come to realize they identify with it because B, C, and D; A may never even have been a factor.
2. Improves Personal Skills
Increasing the amount of time you are with people who do not share the same views as you can develop your tolerance, listening, and discussion skills.
For some, after being surrounded by those who agree with them all the time, it can be difficult to hear the other side. For those who do struggle with discussions like these, it becomes easier to have an open dialogue without becoming “triggered”. This will increase your opportunities to practice listening to a viewpoint that you may strongly disagree with.
The ability to discuss a controversial or hot topic in a civil manner is a great skill to have in this day and age!
3. Prepares you for the Workplace
Regardless of whether you choose to spend your time with those who are similar to you in opinion or not, you will undoubtedly have to be with different perspectives in the workplace.
We may be able to choose our friends, but not our co-workers. Developing the skills mentioned before and becoming familiar with hearing viewpoints different from your own, can make the transition into the real world “post-college” easier.
We may not always agree with what our boss or co-workers says but being able to handle it without it negatively affecting us is important.
4. It Opens Your Mind to New Perspectives
Similar to points made before, hearing where an opposite opinion is coming from can lead to learning about new information. Topics that have more than one side are rarely ankle deep and hearing someone’s reasoning for their beliefs could open your eyes to new perspectives.
My Communications Professor once said, “There is no such thing as losing an argument, only learning”. So even if hearing another perspective does not change your mind, it does not mean either side “lost” but perhaps there is more information that could be discovered on the topic to build a stronger argument.
If you only ever listen to social media or the news’ interpretation of a viewpoint, you may miss out on hearing it from a direct, personal source.
Changing your social setting to include a greater variety of opinions can be daunting but the personal growth that you will experience makes it worthwhile.
It is great to have close friends who agree with you but challenging yourself and befriending those who view the world a little differently can lead to a broadening of your horizon, better people skills, preparation for the real world, and maybe… just maybe, you might surprise yourself and change your own mind.