Believe that what they are saying is valid.
Those are important things that you hear quite a bit these days.
But I'm going to add one. One that you don't hear, and that (knowing me) will probably end up getting me in trouble:
If it does, just remember that I'm delusional on painkillers right now, so I'm not right in the head. :)
But I think the next step is to process that information. Because everyone's perspective is valid, and what they have gone through is real. That doesn't mean though that the conclusions they have reached as a result of those is actually *the truth*.
Look for commonalities in the stories of different people and where they line up. And where they do not. Process that information, while acknowledging that it's your own set of biases that are doing that filtering.
I've just seen far too many arguments that have devolved into a "don't discount my experience!" as if that were the end. It's not (although it may be the end of that particular conversation with that particular person, because why are you arguing with someone who is sharing their story anyway???) it's a piece in a bigger picture. Take in that one, and every story that you hear and put it in the mosaic of the experiences that shape your own views.
Because all you have is your own perspectives, so your views are limited. If you're not right about everything (and since you are not ME, you are not.) and neither is anyone else. (again, except ME!)
Just keep that in mind, while at the same time keeping your mind open to other people's experiences.
/old white guy's drugged out rant
Now get off my lawn and go vote for your favorites! http://therealljidol.livejournal.com/894182.html