Closed-minded people are judgmental, opinionated, and full of criticism. There is an inspirational quote going through the Internet that says, “The problem with closed minded people, is that their mouth is always open.” These people have an answer to everything without ever participating in a true solution. They have no idea what anyone is going through with challenges and obstacles. They open up their mouths and give way to uneducated and obnoxious ideas. They are ignorant, self-righteous and demanding. And, they know no wrongdoing.
Unfortunately, closed-minded people are everywhere. It may be your uncle, your sister, your cousin, your boss, or a distant family friend. You can’t really escape their attitude, but you can get clever with how to respond to their words. closed-minded folks are usually driven by fear. How we react is based on our own resistance.
Here are 5 ways to respond to closed-minded people:
1. Do not share personal things with them.
Inspirational author Steve Pavlina shares ideas from his book “Personal Development for Smart People” on how to deal with the toxic arrogance that happens with closed-minded people. “When you encounter people who are very close-minded, you’ll often find yourself becoming resistant to the other person’s position. You think the problem lies with the other person, but if you define it that way, you’ll beat your head against the wall in frustration. The real source of your frustration is your own resistance, not the other person.”
So in view of his research and findings, the best way to deal with such behaviors is usually by not sharing personal information. If you already know what triggers the person to judge and criticize, stay off the subjects. Try to deflect by smiling and thanking them for their wisdom!
2. Let them know you didn’t ask for permission.
We give power to closed-minded individuals when we ask them for opinions and permission. If you know what you are up against, don’t ask for advice. Sometimes when we speak, we don’t realize how things are misinterpreted, so perhaps you were just needing confirmation on a subject. But you didn’t ask their permission. Be aware of how you phrase things. That person will come at you with their beliefs. And, in that moment, you will realize that this is not what you meant to do or say. The best way to overcome this is by answering, “Let’s agree to disagree since I really wasn’t asking your permission.” And then walk away because their ego will always control their mouth.
3. Be truthful to how you feel.
Some people are like skunks. You can smell them before even seeing them. When a subject comes up that the closed-minded individual starts to bulldoze over, make sure you let them know that you aren’t having it. Let them know straight away that their opinion stinks. This may hurt that person but it will also stop future arguments. No one wants to be humiliated. You are putting barricades up before the skunk can sneak into your place. You can let them know that “it’s not up for discussion.”
4. Maintain a positive outlook no matter what.
Closed-minded people are not optimists. They see the world through fear and anxiety. They judge because of ignorance and differences. A way to disarm them is to stay positive. Whatever they say, try and spin it with sunshine. They don’t know what to do with it. Their world is full of pessimism. Sing them a child’s catchy Disney tune. You are not mocking them, you are shutting them up. They already think you are crazy, so step onto the stage. Nothing stops them from irrational behavior more than unpredictable actions.
5. Don’t take it personally.
Sometimes it’s easier said than done. When we are passionate about a subject matter, we become the subject. Recognize that negative closed-minded folks can’t see the other side of the coin. They are reacting to their own judgments and ideas. Perhaps they aren’t educated on the discussion. They are repeating what they have heard on the news or through other groups similar to them. When you step back, recognize that you have an opportunity to educate this person. Don’t take on the judgment as an attack. Take it as an advantage and a chance to lovingly teach someone a new point of view. Even those who are closed-minded may have a point that you can learn from as well.
We all have diverse views and ideas. Opened minded people know how to handle these behaviors. They are also open in their convictions that not everyone thinks the same. This doesn’t mean you have to tolerate abuse, nasty behaviors, or disrespect. It just means you don’t have to accept every judgment and criticism. We learn from each other. We don’t have to participate in every argument to make a point.