We shouldn’t judge the way others talk. We don’t want others to judge the way we talk.

Everyone has their own style. Sometimes we say one thing and the person we’re speaking with hears something else. It isn‘t until later in the conversation when they say something that clues us in to the misunderstanding that we identify what happened.

Our job as communicators is twofold: 1) We have to communicate in the way that is most appropriate for the situation. Automatically, we take into account several factors of the other person, and we adjust our communication style to best convey our message to them. For example, if we note they are hard of hearing, we might – without thinking too much about it – speak a bit louder, to make it easier for them to hear us. If we’re talking to a child we might use different vocabulary than if we were having a discussion with a university professor or another adult.

2) The second part of our job as communicators is to listen with the intent to understand. That does not mean making a lot of assumptions about what the other person is saying, but consider the information they give you before connecting it in intricate ways to what you already know and believe. In other words, when we listen with the intent to understand, we are open to the ideas and opinions of others.

Part of being not just a good communicator, but a good person, is to reserve your judgement of a person. Do not judge people for the way they talk. Don’t judge them based on the language they speak, their dialect, their accent, or the vocabulary they use.

Just because you hold a belief does not mean that everyone holds the same belief of you. That belief may be a positive force in your life; it might work for you. But that does not mean it will work for everyone.

If you believe that it is wrong to swear, good for you. However, not everyone holds that belief. (In fact, studies have linked swearing to longer lives, ability to withstand greater levels of pain, and lower levels of stress). If you meet someone who in casual conversation, uses a swear word or two, reserve your judgement of that person. Rather than focusing on the words they use that you do not like, focus on the message they are trying to convey. Be open to their ideas.

If you meet someone who speaks your native language with an accent, do not assume they are less intelligent. Many people who speak with an accent know two or more languages – an impressive feat of learning! The sound system and intonation patterns of their first language influence their pronunciation of their second language. Speech training can help people communicate more clearly in a second language.

Half of speaking is listening. No two people share exactly the same language history, vocabulary, and speaking style. That is even more reason to listen to others. You might be surprised about what you learn.