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Listening without judgement requires shutting off the internal noise of your own thoughts, so that you can hear the whole message, and be open to the speaker’s ideas.

Often, we listen and interact with people without thinking. We see the world through the lens of our own experiences, personality and beliefs. When you are empathetic, you can understand a situation from someone else’s point of view. For example, you can validate her perspective by acknowledging her opinion. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with her, just that you accept she has a different perspective from you.

Also, the thoughts, feelings and physical reactions that we have when we feel anxious or angry can block out ideas and perspectives that we’re uncomfortable with.  Prejudice, past experiences, personal motives, and self-interest keeps our own thoughts and needs in the front of our minds, pushing the speaker to the people

Making incorrect assumptions, giving unsolicited advice or analysis, going into denial, and feeling fearful, apathetic, jealous, or defensive can inhibit communication. Don’t interrupt. Listen to understand. Think before you speak.

Would you open your closet and choose to wear the same dress, shirt, or pair of pants to work every day? What about eating the same breakfast, lunch and dinner day in and day out. It is the many varieties of foods, colors, places to vacation that brings highlights to our lives daily.

four people walking while holding each others arms

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We would probably find life less interesting if we were all the same. The dictionary defines cultural diversity as “the existence of a variety of cultural or ethnic groups within a society.” It is with these varieties of cultural or ethnic groups that bring a variation of thoughts, opinions and experiences that we can all benefit from. So how do we begin to value, appreciate and embrace the differences in others? The following are a few hints:

  1. Take the time to listen without judgement
  2. Approach difference with learning as your goal
  3. Accept that time and effort spent can bring understanding
  4. Commit to not giving up

 Kimberly Rowe, M.Ed., LPCA


There never were in the world two opinions alike, no more than two hairs or two grains; the most universal quality is diversity.           Michel de Montaigne 


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