Your opinions are a representation of an emotional connection to your views. Sharing an opinion shows your individuality and can also connect you to like minded people. So when someone shares a differing opinion, how do you react?
Here are a few ways in which people react negatively to differing opinions:
The Automatic DefenseWhy is this harmful?
The Automatic Defense is a blocking technique instead of really listening to what someone else is trying to say. Often, this is to protect your idea from any attack to avoid any confrontation. This is also commonly referred to as a close-minded view which can ultimately lead you to stamp out anyone else with a differing opinion.
By blocking out another persons opinion immediately we come across with an attacking attitude. In turn, this will lead the other person to push harder or walk away in disgust. The automatic defense can actually cause more harm than good by blocking any external opinion, thus leading to a narrower view on that topic.
The Instant Back-downWhy is this harmful?
The Instant Back-down is a surprisingly common approach to avoid confrontation and an attempt to keep the other party happy. When opinion B is offered, the person who gave opinion A will agree with the other person while pushing their original opinion down as quickly as possible.
While this tactic can be useful in some circumstances, it can often come across as a weak test of character. It can show that a person won’t stand up for what they believe in, instead opting to ‘keep the peace’. This could easily deter businesses, entrepreneurs or professional people from working with or employing that person.
The Fake Instant Back-downWhy is this harmful?
The Fake Instant Back-down is another attempt to keep confrontation to a minimal. When opinion B is offered, the person who gave opinion A will appear to back down yet behind their back will still run with opinion A.
Sharing opinions is a great way to genuinely get to know another person. When one becomes not genuine, the reason/need for the debate becomes void. By doing this, the person with opinion A is representing themselves in a negative light with only a matter of time before the other person finds out. This can cause a lot of harm and unnecessary distraction down the road.
The Listen And LaughWhy is this harmful?
The Listen and Laugh technique can come across as rude and often causes more conflict than The Automatic Defense. With it, the person receiving an opposing opinion will quickly rebut without any facts or further knowledge.
Anyone who is willing to share an opposing opinion is already putting themselves in the line of fire. Attacking/degrading them further for being honest can lead to stronger confrontation and a negative outcome. It can also demonstrate a weak character flaw. In future, it could lead to less discussions with that person and fake debates to avoid confrontation.
So as you can see, there are a few ways in which to badly handle differing opinions. To encourage honest opinions and strong debate with more positive outcomes we recommend the following approaches:
The Understanding EmbraceWhy is this helpful?
The Understanding Embrace is an ego-less stance to taking others opinions and connecting with them. When a differing opinion is shared, the person with opinion A evaluates opinion B for what it is - removing emotion from the decision process and instead focusing on the points raised.This leads them to embrace the differing opinion with humility and honesty even when disagreeing with the points raised.
When someone offers a differing opinion, they are sharing their views from their own emotions and experiences. It’s in these areas that we must take in the information (excluding the emotion attached) and honestly evaluate the points raised. This will allow us to grow our understanding of the topic by being aware of the differences in opinions. By having both sides of the topic in our minds, we can make stronger decisions (outcome vs ego) that benefit both parties if we so choose.
The EducatorWhy is this helpful?
While this approach is very powerful, there must be a word of caution with its use: Many people find this technique to be less than genuine and often ‘big-headed’ by definition. The Educator is when a differing opinion is listened to and understood by person A, then reformulated and re-educated back to person B.
Having a larger amount of opinions on a topic can give you a broader understanding of it’s context. By educating person B on how both opinions are valid (or one over the other) they too can learn a lot more about the topic at hand. Quite often The Educator will find that this approach will “fall on deaf ears” or be met with The Automatic Defense, which is why a strong word of caution must be attached.
The Humble AdmissionWhy is this helpful?
The Humble Admission is where a differing opinion is offered and completely understood by person A. They then choose to evaluate and humbly admit that they agree with person B.
When sharing an opinion it’s important to be open to others. This approach removes emotion from the differing opinion and simply looks at the context. By humbly admitting, you are keeping your mind on point with the actual discussion rather than getting caught up in the moment. Unfortunately for many people who employ this tactic, it’s often confused with The Instant Back-down and the result is often a slightly childish “I Win” look or action from the other person.
When sharing opinions remember that others will often see something different. This is perfectly fine, and important if we want to the world to continue to adapt and change. Keep strong to your opinions but be open to listening to others.
Thanks for reading,