Never Try to Change Someone’s Opinion

This astonishingly direct quote caught my eye recently, from the blunt yet always thought-provoking Wall Street Playboys blog:

"Changing an Opinion: No point here. Unless someone is completely new to a topic there is no point in changing their opinion. It won't happen and if you're right they will simply dislike you because their ego took a hit (you were right and they were wrong). This is not a good way to win at life. Instead of trying to change opinions make a decision on if the person has already made a strong opinion. This is the real trick. If someone is 100% new to a topic then feel free to provide an opinion. If they already have an opinion, just agree with it and take their side of the argument. Besides. In order to have your own strong opinion you should be able to argue the other side with ease… This will save you a large amount of time and we can't over state that enough: 1) figure out if they have a strong opinion – takes a few minutes, 2) then decide to either agree *or* give an actual opinion (if they have an opinion just agree). 

In addition, if you read this paragraph and disagree, we think you have a good point and things aren't black and white so there are definitely grey areas (see if you catch the joke)."

One of the reasons I wanted to write a post about this quote was to remind myself to not be like either person in situations like this. Don't be the guy trying to change somebody else's strongly-held opinion... but also, don't be the other guy, the one who's rigidly ego-attached to his own strongly-held opinion such that he dislikes somebody for the horrible crime of having a differing view.

So, here's my four bullet point checklist for any situation where people ask for (or offer!) opinions:

1) When someone asks your opinion, ask back: "What do you think?" or "What's your view?"

2) If the person does not have an already formed opinion, you may consider the idea of sharing your opinion. Maybe.

3) If the person does have an already-formed opinion, smile, nod and agree. Save time and energy!

And, last:
4) Don't have ego attachments to the rightness or wrongness of your opinions. Much of what we think we know is wrong anyway, we just haven't found it out yet.

Readers, what do you think?

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Michael Goldsman said...

You can substitute "religious beliefs" for "opinion" here with similar validity.

Daniel said...

Yep, agreed. Also: "politics."


chacha1 said...

I have pretty strong opinions but I don't really care about other peoples' opinions, even if they differ from my own, unless they are trying to present an OPINION as a FACT. There is data to support facts, there is only belief to support an opinion. The belief may be based on facts ... or not.

Long story short, I almost never engage people about opinions. They can think what they want to think. Unless some cockamamie theory is likely to interfere with my life in some direct and annoying way, I am totally not going to waste my time on it.

Unknown said...

1-outta-1 bites-the-dust.
I know.
Im an NDE.