13 Useful Tips for Building Tolerance: How to Be More Tolerant of Others
In our daily lives, we may find ourselves facing situations or people that we find difficult to tolerate because they think or act differently than we do. But it is possible to improve this aspect of our personality by learning to respect and value diversity. But tolerance isn’t easy, since it requires us to stop thinking from our own perspective and learn how to see things from the eyes of other people. Being able to tolerate someone’s different point of view takes a lot of effort and willingness to understand others.
Imagine how you would feel if people around you were rejecting your ideas and opinions just because they couldn’t understand them. You would wish that they were more tolerant with you and that’s exactly what they would want from you. So, for everyone to be a more accepted person, we all need to work on our tolerance and try to see things from others’ points of view.
1. Learn to put yourself in the other person’s shoes
You can learn to put yourself in the other person’s shoes by imagining yourself in their situation. Or you can ask them, with sincere curiosity, about the details of their life to try to understand them better. Doing this will prevent us from questioning others about everything they do.
Empathy helps us understand how the other person feels and be more tolerant of actions or ways of thinking that are different from our own. While some people tend to be empathetic by nature, others have a hard time being empathetic. But with practice and conscious effort, it is possible.
You will be open to see things from new perspectives and understand what it’s like being in other people’s shoes. Rather than labeling people who are different from you, you will be willing to tolerate their opinions and try to see where they’re coming from and bridge the gap between you and them.
2. Ask for an explanation of the other person’s point of view
A smart way to reverse a negative situation and show tolerance is to ask the other person to state his or her opinion, perhaps by saying, “Tell me more about what you think. Why did you come up with that idea?”. Talking with a friend with whom you disagree about things can lead to better understanding of the issue for both of you. You may even happen upon some common ground on which you agree. It strengthens your perspective to know more clearly why your views stand up to contradictory ones.
On the contrary, intolerance can lead us to defend our ideas in an offensive way, closing off any possibility of coming to understand the other person. Although intolerance is not new, current events suggest that we live in especially intolerant times. Across many countries, people are intolerant of various minority groups, with this type of behavior leading to disinvitations, deplatforming, firings, intimidation, and violence toward ideologically dissimilar people.
3. Don’t personalize the conversation
When we are talking to someone and we find it difficult to be polite, what we shouldn’t do is personalize the conversation by accusing the other person for having a different opinion. You should keep in mind that it’s not the person you are angry with, but simply their idea, which is definitely believed by someone one too. And it’s not helpful at all to attack their beliefs since that won’t change their mind. On the contrary, they will become defensive and might make a personal attack to your beliefs as well.
What you can do to show how tolerant you are is to use first person sentences. For example: “I don’t agree with that. I think that...”. On the other hand, if we start by saying: “You’re wrong for thinking that way. Your opinion is wrong,” what we get is a negative discussion.
4. Spend some time learning about other people and cultures
Our tolerance level can increase when we learn about a culture and the idiosyncrasies, beliefs, and traditions of the people we may have to deal with. This doesn’t mean denying one’s own culture, but enriching it by learning about the diversity that surrounds us. This is so important since we live in societies where people from different backgrounds live peacefully and they all try to be the best version of themselves. So, cultural awareness is a good step to take in order to understand others around you and their belief system.
This way you learn to have meaningful relationships with those around you, based on mutual respect and understanding. You know what things they are annoyed by, what things they can and can’t do and they know those exact same things about you. To do that, you can do your own research or simply sit down with them and have an open and honest conversation.
5. Set aside differences by changing the subject
We are all different and think differently. This doesn’t have to mean conflict. Rather, to get through a difficult situation and continue to be tolerant, it is possible to put aside those differences by changing the topic of conversation or avoiding those that could generate controversy.
Sometimes it is not a matter of changing their minds or modifying our opinions on certain issues. Rather, it is about accepting that we may agree or disagree with others and that we aren’t going to make friends with everyone we interact with.
6. Listen carefully to others without jumping to conclusions
Listening is useful in many areas of life and most of us do it every day. Except that we have to keep in mind that we should listen not to respond, but to understand and respect the other. Certain research has determined that receptive listening is essential for the proper functioning of human relationships.
To achieve this, it is important to not interrupt, to look the other person in the eye, and to not jump to conclusions. If the other person starts talking and we immediately begin to judge and react emotionally, while thinking about the answer we are going to give, we will be impeding communication. You should always think about how you would want someone else to listen to your thoughts. It’s never pretty when someone ignores you and looks like they would rather be anywhere else.
7. Remember that you have the power to change your negative emotions into positive ones
When we face a conflict that we find difficult to tolerate, it is good to remember that we are masters of ourselves and our emotions. Just as the other person owns themselves and their opinions and may not even be aware of what we are feeling. So, instead of letting something negative overtake our entire soul, we can oull ourselves from the abyss and ask ourselves what we can learn from this negative moment. Or you can choose, to change your perspective and see the good things that are going on around you instead of the negative ones.
It’s your choice where you will invest your energy when you feel all the negativity choking you. If a specific person for example, is annoying you, you can stop giving them your attention and instead focus on someone else. You don’t have to disagree or destroy your day just because someone has a different opinion. You can choose to move on and talk about something else.
8. Change the perspective of a situation and turn it toward yourself
Sometimes we may not be able to understand exactly why others act in a certain way. This can cause us to lose perspective when we interact with them. For example, if someone doesn’t give you a call like they had yo believe they would do, you might feel anger towards them. But, they might be dealing with something you have no idea about and showing tolerance is the first step to take.
To solve this and remain tolerant, we can change our criteria and turn it back on ourselves. Then, instead of thinking, “That person was very rude to me,” we can think, “Maybe I’m going through a difficult time. I say things without thinking when I’m not doing well.” It takes a lot of courage to get rid of our egotistic thinking and judge ourselves in a good way.
9. Practice respect for the opinions of others without taking them personally
Respecting others implies believing that they have the same rights as we do. It means recognizing their differences, accepting and valuing them, and not judging them. This is exactly what you would want others to do with you and your opinions when having an open discussion.
We can increase our respect for the opinions of others by not taking them personally. Even if we embrace the ideals of a group, that doesn’t mean we are enemies of those who don’t. Nor can we expect everyone to agree with us. But if we learn to respect differences, we will understand that even if we disagree, all ways of thinking can be equally valid.
10. Be mentally prepared to change your mind if necessary
It may happen that, during a conversation, we realize that, in truth, we are not right. When we accept this and do not insist on our wrong opinion, we are not only being tolerant but also humble. Exercising this aspect of our personality can be difficult, but it helps us to be more open toward others.
If you notice that you keep insisting on your wrong opinion, you have to realize that it’s your ego taking over your mind. By recognizing that, you are helping yourself to break free from it and think logically. You don’t always have to be right and nobody will judge you if you were wrong and you now own up to it.
11. Analyze the reasons for your lack of tolerance
The first step to becoming more tolerant is to analyze why we aren’t. Family background or past experiences may have influenced the way we see things. If we believe we are always right, we should dig deep inside ourselves to find out if we are right, or if we may be wrong.
Doing this requires a lot of patience, especially when situations arise that bother us. For example, if we are sent a text message full of spelling mistakes, instead of reacting immediately, we can count to 10 and realize with a calm mind that the person is probably not doing it on purpose to make us angry.
13. Sometimes you need to leave your kids resolve fights themselves
Violence, bullying, and other signs of physical altercation need to be nipped in the bud. No fight can justify hitting each other or other people. But if the argument is relatively mild and the kids seem to be handling it, there is no need to go storming in. Studies say that children who resolve fights themselves grow up to learn to be tolerant adults in the future.
And one study points out that it can even make you a better person. So the next time your children are fighting, even vociferously, let them sort it out as long as there is no physical threat or bullying.
Bonus: Tolerance was the key to Queen Elizabeth’s and Prince Philip’s long-lasting relationship
As Philip said in a toast to the Queen on their 50th anniversary, “The main lesson that we have learned is that tolerance is the one essential ingredient of any happy marriage. It may not be quite so important when things are going well, but it is absolutely vital when the going gets difficult.” In that way, he praised his wife for her abundance of tolerance.
How do you react when you are amongst other people and they have different opinions than you? Are you being tolerant towards others or do you always have to be right?