The modern workplace is filled with people from different backgrounds, cultures and life experiences. To succeed, you need to be open minded about ideas and behaviors. When managers and employees don't keep an open mind, the work environment can be poisoned by biases and intolerance, leading to miscommunication and mistakes.
Tolerance means treating everyone with the same respect that you expect. It means allowing everyone to be comfortable at work, and not having to fear the judgments of your peers for being different or having different opinions. Tolerance in the workplace promotes creativity, because everyone feels free to express an opinion and share insights, according to Mind Tools, an online career resource founded by leadership author James Manktelow. Tolerance in the workplace is vital for effective teamwork, innovation and productivity.
An open-minded workforce is one that accepts a wide range of cultural experiences that can only help your company compete in a global economy. For example, coworkers can share their views and knowledge about other cultures that can help you land contracts and build relationships with outside vendors and clients. When you’re open to diversity in the workplace, you broaden your potential customer base and develop an internal culture that’s focused on learning. A diverse workforce keeps you aware of what’s going on in the world and how your company’s decisions affect customers from all backgrounds.
Nothing is static in the modern workplace, where technology often drives changes in the way business is conducted and jobs are fulfilled. When you’re open minded, you not only respect the ideas of other people, you also accept technological changes and new ideas about how to better perform your job. For example, if a new IT worker changes the software you use, the change should be greeted with an open mind rather than resented because it takes you out of your normal routine. Accept the challenge of adapting to the change and focus on using it to your benefit. Companies have a hard time succeeding without open-minded leaders and workers willing to embrace change.
While open mindedness is a positive attribute, there is a difference between tolerance and apathy. Certain behaviors, such as workplace bullying, are intolerable, and should be called out. If you or your team is being harmed because of another person’s actions, you need to have it stopped. An appreciation for being open minded does not mean you shouldn't challenge actions that undermine your team’s morale and progress. Report the negative behavior to your supervisor or talk to the offending person to let her know her actions will not be accepted by the group.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."