We all know people who love nothing more than judging others.
They feel like they know what’s right and wrong, what’s good and bad, and are more than happy to give their opinions anytime, solicited or not. And they’re usually terrible gossips.
So what about a very different type of person? Do you know any really open-minded people who never pass judgment on others?
These people stand out because they place an extremely high value on fairness and understanding. They also appreciate difference and even non-conformity a lot more than many others.
If you’re not sure if someone is really all that open-minded, you can think about how they behave and see if they exhibit these nine habits of people who never pass judgment on others.
1) They listen
How can you have an open mind if you’ve closed your ears to what others have to say?
Truly open-minded people don’t do this at all.
Instead, they’re usually great listeners because they feel that they gain ideas and experience from other people.
These are the type of people who give you their full attention and are fully present when they talk to you, not half-distracted by their phones or the social setting.
They also show you that they’re listening actively by giving you appropriate oh’s and uh-huh’s and asking questions at the right times.
Someone who has their mind made up can simply close off the outside world and then easily convince themself that they’re right.
But an open-minded person keeps all channels open to communications because they never know when they’ll encounter good reasons to change how they think.
2) They let people disagree
This is one habit of open-minded people that I find really fascinating.
When I was in college, we had a lot of presentations but also debates between professors and visiting intellectuals who were invited to campus for that purpose.
I always found it fascinating to listen to a professor who was so sure of themself expound on a topic they hold near and dear but a few minutes later listen intently while the other person thoroughly debated their ideas.
Both sides were usually academics with a lot of clout and prestige, but at the same time, they were able to listen and debate their points so civilly and sensibly.
While they disagreed on some points, they also searched for a middle ground they could both inhabit, and that was really fascinating to watch.
The moderators also had to keep open minds so they could encourage the two opponents to debate their ideas vigorously.
This all made me appreciate how open-minded people not only accept but often encourage debate and disagreement.
3) They put themselves in other people’s shoes
One habit I’ve really noticed in people who never pass judgment is that they always try to understand other people and look at issues from different perspectives.
They say to themselves, “If that were me, what would I do? Would I have behaved the same?” when they think about why others do what they do.
What they understand is that everyone’s involved in a struggle that they can’t see, especially not from where they are now.
But if they want to figure out why people make certain choices and act in certain ways, they have to try to walk a mile in their shoes.
They work hard to understand other people’s circumstances and motivations so they can see what makes them tick.
4) They look at themselves from the perspective of others
Open-minded people don’t just try to put themselves in other people’s shoes to foster understanding.
They flip things around and try to look at themselves from other people’s perspectives.
They ask, “What does that person see when they look at me? Do they see me clearly, or do they misunderstand me? Have I misrepresented myself to them?”
Through this shift in perspective, they can more clearly understand other people’s behavior and what motivates it rather than just passing judgment on what they’ve done.
My fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Diebert, actually taught me to think this way.
When there was a conflict in the classroom, like name-calling, she would ask the students involved to sit down and talk about what happened.
But then she’d ask them to role-play each other. This always made us think about what the other person thought and felt when they looked at us and was a great tool to improve understanding.
5) They ask questions to help themselves understand
When people are close-minded, they shut the doors and don’t let more information in.
But open-minded people have a very different habit of going out and looking for more information.
They actively ask questions to help them understand other people and situations. This often brings them improved clarity and understanding and keeps them from being quick to take sides or judge people.
More than just uncovering perspectives, asking questions can reveal important details that might otherwise be left out and therefore not give the whole picture.
That’s why you’ll almost always hear open-minded people asking questions – they definitely don’t assume they already know everything.
6) They go out of their way to get both sides of the story
Open-minded people tend to have the important qualities of being fair and level-headed.
This creates in them the habit of always getting both sides of the story, or all sides if there are many.
They’re not content to just hear one telling and then make their decisions based on this.
Here’s an example of what I mean from my time as a teacher:
Connor: Teacher, Mark hit me!
Teacher: Mark, is this true?
Mark: Yes, teacher.
Mark: Because he called me stupid.
Teacher: Did you call him stupid, Connor?
Connor: Yes, but only because he poured milk on my assignment.
Teacher: Did you do that, Mark?
Mark: Yeah, because he was copying my work!
If the teacher had just listened to the first part of the story, Mark would have been in trouble. As it is, there’s a lot more dimension to this simple story, so you’d better believe there’s always more to learn than just one side of any story.
Open-minded people know this and stay open to all the possibilities.
7) They assume there’s something they don’t know
What’s your first instinct when you disagree with something someone else says?
If you’re like me, it might be to think to yourself, “Well, this person’s a dolt!”
But people who are truly open-minded will act differently. It’s their habit to instead assume that there’s something they don’t know that makes them disagree.
I’m not talking about self-doubt here because that’s something else entirely.
What I mean is that they assume there’s a reason why the other person believes something different to themself.
This reason could be that the other person has more information, different “facts,” or carries some preconception that makes them think this way.
Whatever it is, this is some missing information that the open-minded person doesn’t know but would be happy to discover.
8) They stand up for free speech
It should come as no surprise that open-minded people are big supporters of freedom of speech.
Aren’t we all?
I’d happily argue that most people want their own freedom to express themselves but aren’t nearly as excited about other people’s freedom to do the same.
But if you’re really a proponent of free speech, you understand that it has to be for everyone.
Of course, that means that you’ll hear a lot of things that you don’t like and don’t agree with
But for open-minded people, this is the price you pay for this freedom.
They believe it’s important to stand up for everyone’s right to express themself, whether you agree with what they say or not.
And they’ll gladly fight to protect that right.
9) They don’t talk trash
The final habit of open-minded people who never pass judgment is that they don’t talk trash or throw shade.
They generally don’t gossip or say mean things about other people at all because, in their minds, that is being judgmental.
They know that all of us are on this crazy ride called life together, and each person has their own unique journey and challenges.
They don’t want to be judged for their shortcomings and, therefore, don’t want to judge others for theirs.
Open-minded people who never pass judgment tend to share the habits I’ve outlined here.
They’re usually curious, kind, and compassionate on top of these habits as well, and they always try to understand others rather than jump to their own conclusions.
This makes them fair and equitable and generally really good people to be around!