How to Have an Opinion but Still Practice the Art of Kind Conversing in Your 60s
These are turbulent times that we live in, and I am amazed at the uncontrolled and selfish conversing I see and hear lately. It’s everywhere! TV, social media, restaurants, ball fields, schools… everywhere! I believe everyone has forgotten “It’s just your opinion.”
Everyone Has a Right to Their Opinion
It’s frustrating to read the ‘baiting’ that goes on to bring people forward to argue their points of view. For what purpose? I don’t believe minds are changed with threats, name calling or angry comedic satire.
Just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean you are ‘right’ and the other person is ‘wrong.’ It’s just your personal opinion. You have a right to voice your opinion but not to insult, degrade or antagonize someone else with it.
Social Media Is Not the Place to Argue Your Points
On social media sites you’ve got hundreds or thousands of ‘friends’ you don’t really know. Communication is beyond words and includes tone of voice, body language and facial gestures that cannot be used when texting or posting. And remember, all those friends have their opinions, too.
Why alienate an environment that was built to connect you, not disconnect you? Have you been unfriended or unfollowed? Do you do that to others? I know family members who have done that with each other. I’ve even done it because certain people have not learned the skill of kind conversing.
Here are some other options for you to consider. First, take a deep breath and anchor yourself knowing that “everything’s gonna be alright!”
So, where can you go to get support for your opinion? You can certainly join online social media groups that support your opinion. There you can openly voice your beliefs and support others. You can even create your own group!
Conversing Face to Face
Did you know you can also create your own Meetup.com group? This is a platform that allows people a way to meet locally – or online – to discuss mutual passions, interests and opinions.
Unison is a software program that allows you to create a discussion hub for business, committees or other groups of people for varied purposes.
Consider the Source of Your Opinions
And here’s something else for you to consider. Where does your opinion come from? Did you inherit it from your parents? Was it fostered in you through religion? Do you know the facts behind your opinion or could you argue it if you were indeed challenged?
Why not challenge yourself occasionally to determine how deeply your opinion is rooted and if you have an open mind for discussion when you are face-to-face with someone. Opinions can be changed or modified – even yours!
Do you open yourself up to alternative options? Do you want to? How can you begin to do that?
You can do this in the privacy of your home. Read controversial articles. Turn the TV channel to one that you know is opposing your point of view and listen openly. Watch videos that declare a different option than yours.
Documentaries are great because they try to base them on facts. I know my opinion on illegal immigration is strong, so I watched an Australian documentarily titled Go Back to Where You Came From.
It made me aware of things I had not been aware of before watching that film. Now I have alternatives to my thinking instead of the typical ‘black or white,’ ‘right or wrong.’
Have you noticed that labelling tends to create division instead of cohesiveness and understanding? Why do we use terms like conservative, liberal, left wing, right wing…?
I never even liked the labelling of races… after all we are just human beings. So, be cautiously aware of the words that you choose in your communication.
The next question I know you will ask is what do you say or do when you are confronted by someone who wants to push their opinion on you? Here are a few steps.
Leaving a confrontation is not a passive choice if you are the one making it decisively and calmly.
State: “This is not the time or place for this discussion. I’d like to pick this up later when I’m more prepared to answer.”
Say, “Thanks for sharing your opinion. You have the right to yours and I have the right to mine. Your friendship is more important than our differences.” You can add, “Let’s go to dinner, watch the game, get a coffee.”
Remember that relationships are far more important than opinions. Life will be short and sad at the end of the day if you are sitting all by yourself wrapped tightly in your opinion.
Do you always preface discussions on sensitive topics with the phrase “In my opinion”? What do you think can be done to improve the art of kind conversing? Please share your thoughts and opinions below.
Sheryl Nicholson is an international professional speaker, author and podcaster known for her authenticity and results-oriented tips. She relates quickly to women and their real-life challenges at work and in their “love space.” Her work-life balance podcast is available on iTunes or here. She shares leadership tips at her website.