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How Social Awareness Helps Us to Be More Open-minded

What is social awareness?

Social awareness is one’s ability to take into consideration the perspectives of other individuals, groups, or cultures and be understanding, empathetic, and engage accordingly.

How does social awareness help us to be more open-minded?

To be open-minded, we must shift the ‘me first,’ ‘me-most-important’ culture to a more collaborative community-based attitude and look outside of ourselves, literally and figuratively. Not everyone who is socially aware is self-aware, which can lead to a host of 'shadow elements' that may come with possessing good qualities. For example, open-hearted people are also likely to be betrayed more easily; people who are transparent and unselfconscious might overshare and inadvertently make people feel uncomfortable. Being socially aware takes effort in looking at new media, cultural artifacts, books, the arts, and humanities to learn of the "other worlds" and cultures within and outside our own. Even within our own culture, there is a level of meta-awareness at the individual, family, friend, community, societal, and global levels. Awareness helps develop empathy and compassion when connecting with the arts and humanities. It is not an accident that the word "human" is in the word, humanities. To be human, we must be open to each other's humanity, expressed through social awareness brought about by an open-mindedness to the world through its many cultural expressions of struggle and triumph. What mindset shifts may take place as a result?

Any approach that helps take the emphasis off the ME as the most important focal point in life will shift into an ‘other-focus.’ Mindfulness and being "right here, right now" (Ram Dass) is a shift that occurs when we appreciate and understand the collective over the individual. How might we approach conflict differently?

Coming from a less binary outmoded position of hierarchy and linearity (i.e., “I am right, and you are wrong; my idea is better than yours; my work is more important than yours”) fosters a focus on relational and aspirational leadership. A collaborative approach mitigates conflict by assuming the relationship is there from the outset—professional or interpersonal.

If one shows up with a more collective and understanding persona that transcends the individual's wants and needs, this shift will change the entire structure of how to mediate conflict because no one person is ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’

Also, an attitudinal shift from right/wrong, top/down, good/bad allows for more flexibility, less hierarchy, and more collaboration, not mere cooperation or compliance with an arbitrary authoritarian model. Developing an ‘other focus’ shifts our perceptions from a linear binary “I am at the bottom, or I am the loser and must get to the top and be the winner” to a collaborative, community-based, participatory model.

Coming from this compassionate, non-dual perspective, one seeks to find out how we can solve or, in non-dual language, "transcend" this issue so that everyone gets their needs met and are on equal footing. Shifting our perspective can even make the word conflict obsolete as there is nothing to overcome, just understood.


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