Posted: July 6, 2020 in: Personal Empowerment, Pain-2-Power

How to Have a Strong Opinion and Listen at the Same Time

Too often, having a firm position on something seems to stop people from seeking further input from others or truly listening to opposing views when they are offered. The “stance” taken by many who are resolute about their ideas seems to be like an intellectual immune system with antibodies primed to seek out and destroy anything quite different.

You can almost feel this intellectual immune system at work in another person if you start to share your ideas about what should happen at your company, or in your family, or to your country and your audience (whether of one or many) holds up a hand to signal you to stop, walks away, looks away, or starts to yell.

You can often feel this intellectual immune system in yourSELF, too.  Signs include shaking your head within seconds of someone beginning to present a direct challenge to your way of thinking, rolling your eyes, asking no follow-up questions or making your argument, again, before the other person has finished making his or hers even once.

Having a heightened intellectual immune system is a sign of weakness, not strength.

Those with truly strong opinions, grounded in fact and honed through much reflection, are in no rush to dismiss opposing views.  They want people to attempt to poke holes in their reasoning, in order to test what they believe. They want others to share their philosophies so that these ideas can be understood as deeply as possible and assessed for veracity.

In order to maintain strong opinions without turning a deaf ear to other opinions, it is best to play interviewer, not debater.  The effort at the front of one’s mind should be devoted to learning and understanding, rather than undermining, the other person’s opinion, view or theory.  This requires almost “forgetting” what we believe to be true and becoming, again, a student absorbing the widest range of theories.

You needn’t worry; your opinions will come back to mind soon enough.  You won’t lose yourSELF by temporarily becoming a listener, first and foremost.  What you will gain is intellectual courage to contemplate the subjects you have held most dear.

Dr. Keith Ablow


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