Being open-minded and free of judgment toward others and ourselves and practicing a general “live and let live” mentality is important to today’s young professionals (YPs). There is enough stress and animosity between people in today’s world, and so many of us try our best to contribute a more holistic and fair way of being and thinking within our own relationships. That said, it seems that as much as we hope and attempt to be open-minded within our business and social circles, many YPs are actually more judgmental than we may think. How can we assess if we are being truly open-minded? And why is open-mindedness so important anyhow?
“I’m not judging, but…” may be one of the most contradictory yet common statements made in the YP world. The problem with such a statement, of course, lies in what comes after that “but,” a value judgment, a “but I just don’t think it’s right,” or “but I think it should be done differently.” Value judgments are statements of personal opinion regarding the rightness or wrongness, the usefulness or value of something or someone. If practicing open-mindedness is important to you, keep an ear out for your use of value judgments, and keep in mind that if you find yourself saying, “I’m not judging,” you may in fact be doing just that. To start off a comment with “I’m not judging” does not erase the judgment that very often follows it.
So you’ve made a commitment to be judgment-free. You don’t comment when you think a coworker is wrong, when a family member is being annoying, when that guy on the street is acting oddly, or even when you think you look fat in the company golf shirt. You consider yourself to be tolerant, unbiased, and accepting of all walks of life. Or at least you tell yourself that. Many prominent philosophers believe rational humans are judgmental creatures by nature, and so for many YPs being open-minded is a choice rather than an innate characteristic; it takes conscious effort and practice. Telling others and ourselves that we don’t judge is a great way to start that practice, but it is not the way to master it. You may keep your judgments to yourself, but if they are still there, clouding the mind, perhaps coming out only in seemingly harmless, private convos with spouses or BFFs, then you are not truly practicing open-mindedness. Refraining from judgment is not only an outward act, but also a very personal, inward, mental practice.
Why is it so important anyway?
Overall, the reason why being open-minded is so important for today’s YP is not because it’s trendy, because it sounds nice, or because it makes us look good – it’s because it is a huge factor in our own health and happiness. Judging others and ourselves is simply an expression of our dissatisfaction with the way things are, and of our desire for things to be different, things we often cannot control. Living in this dissatisfied state is not fun, healthy, nor productive. Living judgment-free opens us up to be able to accept others and ourselves as we all are. Of course, living in such a way is nowhere near as easy as this all sounds, but making an effort each day to just try it out can only aid us in our relationships, and subsequently in all others areas of our YP lives.