How do you best challenge an opinion or point-of-view that differs greatly from your own?
Our virtual world has created a sometimes-overwhelming platform of personal opinions. In any given search on a specific topic, you are bound to find pieces that align with your personal viewpoint and some that differ drastically. Scrolling through social media, there will inevitably be pieces that make you smile, and others that make your blood boil.
If someone in your marketplace has posted a piece that fosters an inner need to say something, how can you best address the opinion, and should you?
Firstly, appreciate that fully expressing ourselves takes courage and a willingness to face the critics. The often-risky quest of self-expression grants us the liberating feeling of having shared our opinions, values or beliefs; though there will inevitably be others who disagree.
Everyone who is sharing their thoughts is likely no different from you, with respect to having faced some form of trepidation before declaring their personal truths to the world. And like you, they are entitled to their opinion. It’s called freedom of expression.
Why should we approach our responses to personal opinions more consciously?
The world has enough critics and we need more cheerleaders. Even the most opposing perspectives can be turned into allies, rather than enemies.
When an opinion differs from yours, the focal point should continue to be empowering your audience, rather than overpowering or disempowering others. If we can respect our equal right to share our personal opinions, then we realize that the best way to challenge a piece is to add to it, rather than diminish it.
Next time you read something that elicits a deep emotional response or that you don’t agree with, do your best to be respectful that person’s perspective, acknowledge their opinion and then build upon their offering by adding dimension based on your unique viewpoint and experience.
3 Choices to Effectively Challenge an Opinion
1. Respect the perspective of the communicator. The messages we each have to share (constructed from our perspective and unique composite of experiences) all have a place and purpose (when they support the betterment of humanity).
We don’t know what we don’t know, and perspective-taking (keeping ourselves open to understanding the viewpoints and opinions of others) provide a powerful tool to expand our own awareness by learning from the way others see life.
Unless we take the time to ask, we do not know what a certain person has experienced in their life – the circumstances that have shaped the lens through which they see the world and the opinion they are sharing. Allow yourself the opportunity to glimpse into where they may be coming from (literally and figuratively), so that you can grant them understanding, respect and empathy before challenging their opinion.
2. Question potential learning. If another’s opinion sends you spinning, take time to question that emotional stirring within you. Have you learned something new or awakened a long-tucked-away truth from within you? Even when an opinion enrages us, it is possible to discover gratitude for a new awakening. We are all each other’s teachers. Be the student sometimes.
3. Focus on expansion. When you understand that there is an abundance of opportunity for us all to have a platform and an audience in today’s global society, then you can focus less on competing and more on collaboration. Building upon other’s ideas and showing another uniquely valuable perspective allows you to offer even more to your audience (and surely looks better than diminishing another voice in your space). Know that you can expand your own perspective by welcoming and incorporating those of others.
Through our unique perspectives, we each are interpreters of reality. Every perspective has validity. Through our expression, we each share a viewpoint on what works and what doesn’t, what makes sense and what doesn’t. So long as our perspectives represent respect for one-self and for others, none of these need to be labelled as “right” or “wrong.”
When you go to challenge what someone has shared, think about how you would want your own messages treated. Recognize that no one wants to be diminished or labelled. Let every opinion be a foundation for growth – both yours and that of your audience.
Human potential is realized when we raise ourselves up, not when we beat each other down. Take the time to allow collaboration to rule over criticism.