Schedule Appointment
Opportunities 2 Serve
updateLogo 1.png

"The Salt" (Blog)

The Dreaded Opinion - The Good Side

“For human nature is such that if A. and B. are engaged in thinking in common, and are communicating their opinions to one another on any subject, so long as it is not a mere fact of history, and A. perceives that B.‘s thoughts on one and the same subject are not the same as his own, he does not begin by revising his own process of thinking, so as to discover any mistake which he may have made, but he assumes that the mistake has occurred in B.‘s. In other words, man is naturally obstinate.” Arthur Schopenhauer, Arthur Schopenhauer's Collection (8 books)

When provided an opportunity to share and open up to or provide counsel to another; I urge you to do so for the reasons of gaining perspective and growth in both understanding and self-development. Note that receiving opinions is slightly different than receiving feedback for feedback is reactionary and for many of us is what typically happens after receiving an opinion from another. But what if instead of providing instant feedback we first examined our own process of thinking like Schopenhauer alludes to in the aforementioned quote? Or even better, what if after examining our own process of thinking, we developed the habit of sifting through the received statement and pulling out its value, intent and underlying meaning… And then spoke on it?

Example:

  • A’s Opinion: This 2015, Philadelphia Eagles team is terrible! The offense is struggling worse than ever and we let go of too many of our star players.
  • B’s Opinion: I think the Eagles are still pretty good, their 1 – 3 record could easily be 3 – 1 with a couple of made field goals here and there.

Now here, there’s no real right or wrong but only a difference in the qualities of what a terrible team is in A’s opinion versus what the qualities of a good team are in B’s opinion. What this article challenges you to begin doing is to purposefully switch your position and briefly walk in the shoes of the opposition before issuing a rebuttal. From there, you are further challenged to not only work to understand their position but to also find:

The Value: (TOO often overlooked, underappreciated and not considered). If you cannot determine value from an opinion, it is good practice to invite the opportunity to exchange dialogue around the opinion for further understanding and possible clarification.

Example Reference:

  • A’s Opinion: This 2015, Philadelphia Eagles team is terrible! The offense is struggling worse than ever and we let go of too many of our star players.
  • B’s Opinion: I think the Eagles are still pretty good, their 1 – 3 record could easily be 3 – 1 with a couple of made field goals here and there!

(Hypothetically, the following could be extracted as value from the example).

  • From A to B: They say numbers don’t lie, most of the statement is actually true, there’s value in the perceptual position this person chooses to take.
  • From B to A: This person is a true Eagles fan; full of passion!

“It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Complete Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Intent: (This is where MANY discrepancies occur). Deciphering the true intent of an opinion and even at times advice can be a tough task. We are all copiously aware that there are some people out there with ill intent or ill motives and we must be careful to whom or what we listen to and how much precedence we give certain sources. There are even times when a person is not meaning to provide to you ill advice or opinions but they are speaking from an experience that is not yours and may never be and so you have to be able to think for yourself and use your best judgment in this case and in all others.

Example Reference:

  • A’s Opinion: This 2015, Philadelphia Eagles team is terrible! The offense is struggling worse than ever and we let go of too many of our star players.
  • B’s Opinion: I think the Eagles are still pretty good, their 1 – 3 record could easily be 3 – 1 with a couple of made field goals here and there!

 

  • From A to B: Chip Kelly apologist… (You fill in the blanks. This list could go on forever)
  • From B to A: Eagle basher… (Same instruction)

 

As you see from my lack of effort in listing all of the possible intentions either side could have, the point I am trying to make is that the intent in this argument from either side is not clear. There could be any number of motives behind these opinions and without listening, processing and exchanging dialogue and limiting the habit of providing “instant” feedback; (that is until we are absolutely sure what we have to offer in response fits the definition of feedback and is given in reaction to and used as a basis for improvement); it is really easy to miss the mark and cause an unwanted exchange with someone where hopefully a lesson would be learned in hindsight but it’s realistic to think that the lessons learned in hindsight could have been understandings initially gained through acceptance and discussion.

“A man cannot speak but he judges himself. With his will, or against his will, he draws his portrait to the eye of his companions by every word. Every opinion reacts on him who utters it.”- Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Complete Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Underlying Meaning: (Did you state what you really meant or are you stating how you feel in the moment)? When it comes to stating an opinion, the “why” behind the words absolutely matters. Some trained minds are able to make a quicker connection and see certain opinions for what they are and at times, see what’s behind them with pretty good accuracy. This is done not only by reading in between the lines but also by using facts, previous knowledge and experiences, and recognition of environmental and cultural factors in tandem in order to discern the true meaning of an opinion. Then there are times where you’re left scratching your head and wonder just how that person arrived at particular opinion; since those cases are going to occur more often than not, it is recommended that you seek to create an opportunity to exchange dialogue or attempt to do some fact finding in order to try and piece it together for yourself. Some opinions will have merit to you and some won’t. The key here is learning to accept and consider.

Example Reference:

  • A’s Opinion: This 2015, Philadelphia Eagles team is terrible! The offense is struggling worse than ever and we let go of too many of our star players.
  • B’s Opinion: I think the Eagles are still pretty good, their 1 – 3 record could easily be 3 – 1 with a couple of made field goals here and there!

 

  • From A to B: Maybe “B” is an ex field goal kicker!
  • From B to A: It is quite possible that some of “A’s” favorite player have been cut by the team and they feel like that is the root cause of the teams issues.

Again, there are many possibilities in terms of underlying meanings and without actually being provided an opportunity to “peel the onion” of that person we’re just going off of assumptions or hypothesis. Lastly, there are times when an underlying meaning isn’t clear to us because we aren’t ready to receive it at that time. This often comes from a person of great experience or position that is outside of our own. The opinion could span from simple to intellectually profound and may not hit the mark the next day, week, month or year but when it does, you will absolutely be able to communicate the meaning as it was meant to be. So try to keep an open mind, your next encounter just might present that opinion that has the power to change your life.

"Certain tiny animals do not leave any pain when they sting us; so subtle is their power, so deceptive for purposes of harm. The bite is disclosed by a swelling, and even in the swelling there is no visible wound." That will also be your experience when dealing with wise men, you will not discover how or when the benefit comes to you, but you will discover that you have received it.”- Phaedo, Moral Letters to Lucilius, Volume 3