It’s OK to Not Have an Opinion Right Away
I’m sure you’ve met them.
People who, during a meeting or conversation, have an immediate, and outspoken opinion on the topic. And once they’ve expressed it, they keep defending it — no concessions.
Personally, I look up to people who listen deeply, ask questions, sincerely try to understand your point of view, let it sink in for a moment, and then — in a thoughtful way — present their own perspective.
Unfortunately, this way of conversing is often not possible during meetings because the loudest, most in-your-face person dominates the discussion.
Next to that, our ego can get in the way of a valuable debate.
During a discussion, we often (quickly) take a stand. Which we then start to defend fiercely.
We fear we might lose our credibility if we change our opinion, so we desperately hold on to our initial position.
We look for arguments for our point of view, which can lead to a position war with arguments and counter-arguments, in which the various participants no longer truly listen to the arguments of the other parties.
(Screenshot from a great video that summarizes “Ego Is the Enemy” – watch it on YouTube.)
Especially when you have a common goal, failing to listen well is counterproductive to arriving at good insights and conclusions.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could hush our ego and vanity, and put it in sleep mode when we want to find a solution for a common goal?
Wouldn’t it be great if we could focus on the content, and not on how you will be perceived as a person?
I root for anyone who’s strong enough to admit his or her mistakes. People who maintain an open mind when it comes to finding a solution.
I prefer to collaborate with these types of people, not those who stubbornly and vainly defend a position just because it’s their original one.
There is nothing wrong with changing your opinion. On the contrary, if you’re open to new points of view, your case gets stronger, which might lead to even better insights.
Stop desperately looking for a confirmation of your own worldview, but be open to other, even contradictory information, opinions, and views.
Often, it’s even better to not have an opinion from the start.
I’m not saying this is easy, or that you don’t need to put effort into this. But let it all come in, take a moment to think about it, form your own moderate opinion, and then express it in a calm and thoughtful way.
It’s such a relief to have a conversation with people who actually listen to each other, who don’t have an urge to be “right” all the time. People who ask questions to fully understand the point of view of their conversation partner(s). This is a useful and pleasant way of conversing.
Something to keep in mind during future conversations. Your peers will appreciate it.
Ready to work on this? Here are some reading tips: