how to be more tolerant of others


Kevin Mangelschots

Society as a whole has made some huge developments and positive changes over the years. Think of things such as closing the wage gap between men and women, raising minimum wages, and becoming less discriminating against one another.

Yet, that doesn’t mean that things are perfect. Even though we do discriminate less based on gender, culture, or skin color than before, I think that we aren’t nearly as considerate of other people’s opinions as we think we are.

That’s why we need to learn how to be more tolerant of others.

How do I become more considerate of others?

A person holding a question mark in front of their face.

  • Be respectful

    Respect the fact that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, even though you might not agree with them.

    Respect is the foundation of a well-functioning and peaceful society. It allows us to engage in conversations even though we might not always agree with the other involved party.

  • Be empathic

    You can become more considerate of others by increasing your understanding of other people. Understand and respect that they have a different personality, different experiences, and thus, different thoughts, ideas, and opinions than you.

    Being empathic will help you to connect with other people. It will also help others to open up to you. They will feel understood and respected, and I think everyone deserves as much in life.

  • Keep an open mind

    Image of a note lying on a wooden table saying, “positive mind, positive vibes, positive life”.

    Try to approach every conversation with an open mind.

    This means that you should go into each conversation with the thought that there is always something new to learn from each person you meet. It means that you should accept the fact that you don’t know everything there is to experience in life.

    Different people have different experiences and personalities. Thus, it is only normal and natural that people will have different thoughts, opinions, and ideas than you. Life would be pretty boring if everyone would think the same, don’t you think?

  • Limit biases

    Limit personal biases such as thinking that only our idea can be right, dismissing other people’s ideas because we don’t like them, or because they have a different culture than us.

    Eliminate prejudices to be as neutral as possible to find the answer that’s closest to the truth.

  • Try to understand other people’s views and to put yourself in the shoes of the other person

    The quote, “any fool can know. The point is to understand.” Written in white letters on a gray background. A quote by Albert Einstein.

    Because everyone has different personalities and different experiences, people from all walks of life will have different ideas. To understand those different views, we’ll have to try to put ourselves in the shoes of the other person.

    That doesn’t mean that we have to agree or think the same as they do. But we must at least acknowledge and try to understand where they are coming from.

  • Be curious

    Being curious means you are more likely to search for new perspectives and experiences. And this is something that you will need to be tolerant of ideas that are different from yours.

    Being curious will make you a better person since you will get a lot of chances to learn new things. New experiences will make you grow as a person.

  • Listen carefully

    Image of a man holding his hand near his ear and listening carefully, isolated on a gray wall background.

    One of the best things to do to become more tolerant of others is practicing active listening skills.

    Listening carefully without constantly looking to get in the spotlight by chiming in allows us to understand the big picture and the details without misinterpreting the things that the other party is saying.

    While discussing controversial things or things we don’t necessarily agree with, we mustn’t misinterpret what the other party is saying, since it is already complex enough without misunderstandings.

  • Ask them to clarify

    When we don’t properly understand what someone else means, ask!

    Never be afraid to ask someone for clarification if something is not clear to you. Chances are large that their ideas and thoughts have gone through their head multiple times, while it might be new to you.

    Thus, it is very much possible that you don’t understand all the details when it is first presented to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. It also shows you are interested and are attempting to understand their point of view.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are we intolerant of the thoughts, ideas, and opinions of others?

I think we have become a lot more tolerant about some things like race, skin color, and culture.

I do however believe that we are generally speaking not as open-minded as we think we are. While we often pretend to be tolerant of the opinions of others, I don’t buy it.

Oftentimes, people with an opinion that’s different from ours are scrutinized, belittled, or even bullied to conform to the other person’s idea or the general idea of the group.

An illustration with stick arts signifying a group of people holding hands and discriminating another individual.

Never underestimate the power that a group holds over the ideas and opinions of the included members of the group, either. Since group conformation and bias are a real thing and are incredibly powerful. This means that we are still intolerant of opinions and intolerant of ideas of others. Intolerance of thoughts is harder to measure since we frequently keep those to ourselves.

I think this is because we have a hard time admitting that we might be wrong about something. And that an idea or opinion that we have formed over the years might be something that is important to us and that we’ve invested a lot of time into developing and living by. That idea or opinion might serve as guidance to our way of living, so to speak.

Thus, even the thought that we possibly might be wrong hurts our ego. It also means that we would have to admit that we’ve been “living in a lie” for as long as that wrong or imperfect idea/opinion has been kept alive. This also means that we are not as perfect as people often like to portray themselves.

The word “tolerance” being written with a blue marker.

Regardless of one’s own beliefs and personal biases, I believe it would be beneficial not only for society but for ourselves as well if we were more tolerant of the thoughts and ideas of others.

I think we should all attempt to get as close to the truth as possible. And to do that, we need to let go of personal biases. Think of biases such as thinking that our idea is the only right one, or that the person telling their opinions is someone who we not particularly like, and as such, we consider their idea to be wrong by default. If we start with prejudice, then it is doomed from the very start and nothing good will come out of it. This prejudice will thus lead to bad conflict.

How are tolerance of thoughts, tolerance of ideas, and tolerance of opinions related to personality trait openness?

Image of the big 5 personality traits which are, conscientiousness, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

What we could say about being intolerant of the opinions of others or even being discriminative of others’ ideas is that it is related to the personality trait openness from the Big Five personality traits (BFI) test. The trait openness stands for how open you are to new experiences and different opinions. It also measures how creative you are, how much you like abstract thoughts or, and if you like structure or chaos.

That means that people high in openness will actively search out new, different experiences to enrich their lives, while also seeking out all kinds of different ideas and thoughts that might not necessarily align with theirs. But even if these thoughts and ideas are different from theirs, they enjoy listening to these different views all the same. They are often creative people who love thinking about abstract ideas. Their thoughts, ideas, and opinions are regularly all over the place because they are such open-minded individuals, and because these thoughts naturally branch out a lot.

Image of a man sitting in front of a table working on a laptop.

People low in trait openness however don’t like seeking out new experiences and don’t like opinions that are different from theirs. They are frequently less creative and don’t like thinking about abstract ideas. They enjoy concrete ideas and like to conform to the norms that are already established. In other words, they like structure and like to keep things just the way they are. They are often emotionally stable people who have an easy time making decisions. They enjoy and are good at adhering to routines and schedules, which is extremely useful to get things done efficiently.

Important to note is that openness is a personality trait, and thus, it is not the case that one is necessarily better than the other. Although being high in openness will probably be an advantage in some cases and a disadvantage in other cases and vice versa. For example, is being introverted better or worse than being extroverted? It all depends on the context. But both can be considered different sides of the same coin.

The quote, “you are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be” written in black letters on a gray background.

It is also vital that we mention that it is possible to influence personality traits. We know that people are not static entities. We are constantly evolving, learning, and changing throughout our lives. Our opinions, thoughts, and ideas might change due to different experiences, our brain maturation, and due to making a conscious effort to learn and apply new skills.

As such, it is possible to become more open by actively searching out new experiences, due to actively opening your mind to new and different ideas, and by doing something creative every once in a while for example. Yet, it should be noted that a person who’s naturally very low in trait openness will never be a person who’s extremely high in personality trait openness. But a bit of deviation is possible on either side. And might be beneficial in most cases.

People high in trait openness could and should learn a bit from people low in trait openness and vice versa, so they can utilize and adapt this trait when the situation calls for it!


Practicing these tips can teach you how to be more tolerant of others’ ideas and is a good place to start. Not only that, multiple of those tips are good habits to develop and establish, since they will be valuable and carry over to other areas in life as well. Good habits are never wasted.

Remember that openness is a personality trait, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to become more open. Our personality, along with many other things, is not a static entity and can be changed with hard work, experience, and maturation.

As such, we can all learn how to be more tolerant of others. You should always speak softly but carry a big stick for when it’s needed. Some folks simply don’t listen to reason, and that’s when you need to be capable of defending yourself.

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