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How to Express Opinions Without Building Walls: Understanding the Impact of Your Words

Updated: Jan 23

Executive Series: The Mindful Leader, by Jenny Heins


In the realm of personal and professional communication, the way we express our opinions can significantly influence the responses we receive. When an opinion is expressed as an absolute statement, it often leads to an unintended consequence: listeners raising their defensive walls. And we know that once your listeners walls go up, the likelihood of you getting your message across goes down.


Let's explore why this happens, and how can we communicate more effectively...


1. The Imposition of Views

When opinions are presented as irrefutable facts, they can be perceived as an attempt to impose views on others. This can make listeners feel that their perspectives are undervalued, leading to resistance.


2. Closed Doors to Dialogue

Definitive statements can signal a lack of openness to other viewpoints. This perceived rigidity can dissuade listeners from engaging in a meaningful conversation, as they may feel their input would be disregarded.


3. Defensive Mechanisms

Humans naturally defend their beliefs. Confronting them with strong, opposing opinions stated as facts can trigger a defensive response, shifting the focus from understanding to defending one's own stance.


4. The Absence of Empathy

Opinions expressed as absolute truths can appear to lack empathy. This approach might overlook the complexities of the topic or the listener's personal experiences, creating a disconnect.


5. Creating Power Imbalances

Such assertive statements can create a sense of inequality, positioning the speaker as an authority figure. This can intimidate listeners or make them feel inferior, leading to resistance or disengagement.


FOSTERING OPEN DIALOGUE


To encourage more productive and open conversations, it's crucial to express opinions in a way that acknowledges their subjectivity and shows respect for diverse viewpoints. Here are some tips to achieve this:


- Use Inclusive Language: Phrases like "I think" or "I feel" can soften the expression of opinions, making them more palatable.

- Invite Feedback: Encourage listeners to share their thoughts and feelings on the topic.

- Practice Active Listening: Show that you are genuinely interested in understanding the other person's perspective.

- Acknowledge Complexity: Recognize that most issues have multiple dimensions and that your opinion is one of many valid perspectives.

- Be Open to Change: Demonstrate a willingness to reconsider your opinion in light of new information or arguments.


APPLICATION AND REFLECTION:


Effective communication is key to building understanding and rapport with others. By expressing opinions in a manner that invites dialogue and respects differing viewpoints, we can create a more collaborative and open environment. Remember, it's not just about what you say, but how you say it that makes the difference.


  • DOWNLOAD: The Mindful Leader- Week 1 Reflections & Action Items


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By Jenny Heins.

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