Frequently when we are dealing with someone over some matter there is an exchange of perspectives on the matter of concern. The perspectives can be called opinions or viewpoints. Now, for such an interaction to be truly effective, this exchange should happen in such a way that both parties at least feel at the end that they have had an equal opportunity of voicing their side of things, whatever it may be.
Source of Opinion
In looking at the true nature of anyone’s opinion, it is helpful to emphasize that everyone feels to some subjective extent that there is substance to their opinion. This feeling is inextricably tied in with their unique set of life experiences, knowledge and wisdom and is a very deep, personal feeling. These feelings instinctively tell them that their opinions need to be heard, for how can anyone else have the unique perspective that they are having at the moment given the reasons mentioned above ? This is what makes everyone feel that their opinions were good ones and that they would not otherwise share it with you(regardless what the opinion itself really is about).
The fundamental premise then is to acknowledge that every opinion has its merit. The problem however is, rarely is an opinion heard by itself without having competing opinions come into the picture. This, in itself is not a problem except that we, as human beings, tend to compare another’s opinion against that which we hold true to ourselves – in other words, our own opinion – so much so that when it runs contrary in spirit, we are very quick to dismiss it.
Now, the question is whether this meets our objective of being truly effective in communication. Obviously not. Not for either side. At best, one side will feel good about themselves(maybe the stronger voice) at the cost of a repressed counterpart and in the end neither learns anything of true value. If you had been trying to solve a problem that may not happen too.
So what is the remedy ?
The best policy is when an opinion is stated to you, pay careful attention to what is the basic idea being put forward and what is the truth in it that adds value or clarity to the matter in question. See how it places an additional facet to the matter that was not previously known.
In order to be able to do this, you must remove tendencies in your thoughts to prejudge the person or what is going to come out. Even more unwise is to level any criticism to the other. Your thoughtful response taking into account the above actions is what will produce in the end effective communication between two or more parties.
In valuing the other’s opinion, you create an atmosphere of openness and acceptance and of sincere interaction. This is bound to create positive energy to go about problem resolution.