Cultivate an Open Mindset

There is a lot of uncertainty these days with political polarization of historic proportions, a surge in racial violence, and technological and global developments impacting organizations. In order to manage and protect ourselves, it is easy to become defensive and judgmental. Closed-mindedness, miscommunication and misunderstanding are at the heart of the uncertainty hurting relationships, bottom lines and lives. We need to engage in open-minded conversations that lead to empathy and insight to reach beneficial agreements and solutions.

A lot of energy is wasted because we misunderstand each other, make uninformed judgments and have difficulty coming to agreements—causing both relationships and results to suffer. For most of us, communicating with others is one of the most challenging aspects of our professional and personal lives.

We each need to make it our intention to adapt an open mindset where we are open to and appreciate “what is” and what’s unfolding as well as being optimistic about what is possible. This involves having an open mind (curious), open heart (compassionate), opengut (courageous), and open hands (welcoming and non-judgmental). It is useful to assume positive intent and recognize that it is human to be seeing things differently based on our experiences. With openness and curiosity we can find ways of addressing issues together. If we continue to make others wrong, we have little chance of being innovative and creating new solutions together.

You can develop an open mindset by asking, “Am I open?” or “Am I experiencing an oasis?” When we become aware, we can shift from an activated amygdala—fight or flight—response to activating a different part of our brain where we see more possibilities. You will physically experience an expansive welcoming state. We know that emotions are contagious and that your open mindset will spread and support creating a positive environment.

With an open-minded stance you can engage in a conversation that will create understanding and agreement on solutions.

OASIS is an acronym for moves or steps to ensure positive and productive conversations.

  • O- Observations: Identify the observation or facts separating them from your assumptions or thoughts
  • A- Awareness: Notice your assumptions, emotions and background or expectations that influence your view of the situation
  • S- Shift (to being open): When you notice your judgments, stop, step back and shift to being open and curious about the other person’s perspective
  • I-Importance: Now that you are open, focus on what is important to the other, you and to both of you. This involves giving empathy, asking questions and focused listening
  • S-Solution: Given what is important to all involved, explore options and agree on possible solutions. Make commitments on who will do what and when

The OASIS process has been tested all over the world and is what we do naturally in positive and productive interactions. The key is to remember to make it your intention to assume positive intent and to create an open environment for creating understanding and agreement together.

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