Think before you speak - an invitation

Today I want to invite you to reflect on how we communicate and state opinions. 


The world is changed by your example not your opinion
— Paulo Coelho

Let's face it, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.


By definition an opinion is a view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

In today's world it is very common that people share their thoughts and experiences with the world. It is very easy to spread your message via social media. 

With all the new technology, we get the chance to show off our world views and share our interests with friends and strangers alike. 

It’s easier than ever to get validation for our doings or find like-minded people to interact with. 

What it also gives us is exposure, exposure that can also reach a lot of people who don’t sympathise with you. 


Just because you believe something to be true doesn’t mean it is.


Those platforms show us more than ever that people have strong feelings towards different topics.
Which is not necessarily a problem. The problem is that every one seems to have an opinion on pretty much every subject there is, and feel entitled to it.

In the mids of fast-paced media, many people (and I don't exclude myself from it) form an opinion simply by reading headlines and not taking the time to get properly informed. 

The dangerous mixture of feeling the need to state an opinion immediately and misunderstanding uninformed statements for facts often lead to frustrating discussions that end up not having a constructive means to it.


Your feelings are valid. Your opinions might not.


In the past months I've grown more and more upset over social media and the spread of hateful, wrong and uneducated messages and how easy it is to just dismiss each other by a mouse click.

In order to find a solution to my problem I talked to people who helped me gain inside or shared their frustration with me.

For most parts all it did was presenting me with new challenges and more questions. 

There are a few things though that I figured out. 

The big one was;

We all seem to lack the basic tools of communication.

We often forget that we all come from different experiences, backgrounds and emotions. Our values may vary and our interests can't be shared by everyone. 

We are so convinced that our opinions weigh out the information that is missing from us. Whether because we never cared to read up on it or talk to people who have experienced different things, or we just not that interested. 

I've been in my fair share of arguments, and I've always found it the hardest the more I was invested in it. 
In order to not get too emotional I usually try to take a few steps back.
That doesn't always help, so I researched a few more communication tools, I try to use from now on.


"Why is it important to me?"


Before I start a dialog, no matter if I am to state my opinion or if I want to respond to one, I ask myself why I feel the need to do so. "What are my grounds? Why is it important to me?"

This little step back lets me see from what point of view I am coming from. 


"Do I have the information needed to proceed?"


This is a tricky one, because more often than not it's just because I want to say something, anything. Shut down my counterpart with my opinion rather than facts.

You don't need all the information or knowledge about a subject in order to make a statement. You do have to know though that you might be missing a part of the story, and need to be open minded enough to see the other side. 


There are no Winners or Losers.


You don’t necessarily need to convince your counter part that your opinion is better. Going into a conversation is not about shoving your believes down someone else's throat. It is to gain insight, sharing your thoughts and ideas for a better understanding.


Compassion, patience and tolerance


It takes energy and time. A lot of time. And even more nerves. 
If you are not willing to be open minded, to take time out of your day or to empathise with your conversation partners you might want to adjourn.


Don't be a cunt!


As always. Be kind. 
While some things are not your cup of tea, others spend their days filling up tea bags.



Yours, truly



If this was interesting for you, you might also enjoy Julian Treasure's Ted Talk "How to speak so people want to listen."


Disclaimer: This is, after all just my opinion.