It’s a relatively common question in Science when you present the questioner with an answer. You never really know whether it implies your answer’s right or not. All it says is – you need to explain your method, irrespective of its outcome. Maybe that’s why when someone voices his opinion, I invariably end up asking, “So, how did you get there?”
When I first began to interact on social networks, I realised that some words seemed to occur very often in user profiles or descriptions. One such word was (no, not procrastinator) opinionated. There was pride in the acceptance of the fact that one was closed to hearing other points of view. An attempt to portray a confident and substantial self. An asset in today’s world where you are bombarded with convincingly expressed contrasting views from all sides. There is so much pressure on expressing one’s views vehemently that a mere allowance of the mind to think along a different line is a betrayal of one’s own opinion. I remember the advice debaters of our school would get, “Do not accept the logic in an interjection. Politely acknowledge it and then rubbish it.”
I see two treatments meted out to people – one is a stubborn insistence by the headstrong ones, and the other is a passive acceptance of anything you say by the accommodating ones. There’s a supposed benevolence about allowing contrary views to coexist in a sphere. But, where in both these treatments do you figure? Obstinance seems rude, accommodation seems nonchalant. Does anyone try to understand your view in the light of the direction you are going along? When they find you arriving at a different destination than theirs, do they pause in their tracks, turn their heads and ask, “So, how did you get there?”
Teachers often struggle to make their students learn a method. They repeat themselves endlessly but the student still returns incorrect answers. The procedure would be so much more effective if only they could ask the child “how” he arrived at his answer. If they understood the method he was adopting, they could point out flaws in it and change his route. This not only equips the child to henceforth walk by himself but also convinces him that he is on the right path.
Conviction is what confidence looks like when spelled right. On one hand if it’s our responsibility to understand a different view in its own right, on the other hand it is our duty to convince others of the view we hold. Our thoughts are valuable only to the money makers. For everyone else, it is our thought process that’s important. We seldom realise that listeners are looking to trust our opinion. They are eager to be convinced, irrespective of what their preconceived notion is. While expressing our views through the verbal, visual or written medium, it is only courteous of us to acknowledge different aspects of the issue, explicitly consider them and take the listeners along on the path we followed. They may disagree with the path we chose, but they will understand us, trust our view given the line of thought. A difference in direction may lead to disagreement, but a difference in destination leads to hurt.
Every perspective has a view attached to it. The idea is to find the apt perspective for a given goal and then arrive at a view consistent with the perspective we choose. Merely supplying reasons is not enough. Reasons make you defend when you aren’t even being attacked. What the listeners are looking for is a path woven out of these reasons, a mental journey that they can embark on. After all, an opinion needs to be formed of your opinion.