Every day I am asked my opinion. My judgement is needed on something. It’s not that my opinion is particularly valid, nor that I sit high up the decision- making hierarchy at work. It’s not even that I’m good at making them, I’m actually awful at it by most people’s standards. It’s just that’s how we’re used to doing things. I am asked my opinion to help form opinions for others.
Often, an opinion-seeking question is actually a rhetorical one. Often the person posing the question already has a firm point of view. Therefore the question can only come from one of two motivations: to seek validation through numbers or to check alignment with the respondent. I’ve done it myself. I’ve asked many a question in the hopes that people will respond in the way I want them to. But then you’re left with the quandry of what to do if the answer is wrong. I swear many arguments start from here. Because by trying to sway the other person towards your right answer, you have to defend your own stance. And if you’re defending, that’s never an open communication.
If you’re not seeking validation then surely in this instance, you ask an essentially rhetorical question to help form a judgement. It’s a personality test. Does that person align with you or not? But then that only begs the question. What if you don’t like their true colours? Did you really not know that anyway? For friendships and relationships to blossom, it’s not opinions which need to align anyway, it’s values and principles.
Sometimes we’re apparently asked to answer for ourselves but secretly for the other. For some, they prefer to absorb the opinions of those they admire, mimic or adore. The assumption is that if they project the voices of the iconic in their life, they somehow gain the same kudos. Irony dictates of course, that the admired are only so, precisely as they have avoided this pattern of behaviour. Opinions are the foundation of the spice of life, the variety that keeps us on our toes and checking where we are aligning ourselves as we journey. Life would be incredibly mundane without some disparity of views on the day to day.
When I was young, this is sometimes somehow how I lived. Until one day, when I suddenly realised that I was losing a sense of who I actually was. It’s easy to pull back when you see only a ghostly outline of your being in the fray of humanity.
The proselytiser/ the catalytic converter
You know, the one who’s right. The one who wants to be the catalyst for their sort of change. The in-your-face, relentless soapbox. I can’t put it more simply than that.
In my humble opinion, we pin ourselves to opinions too much. We carve our niche in friendship circles, work environments and the world at large, affirming political and intricately nuanced personal paradigms as we go. In my humble opinion, I would love to see this achieved more by consensus in action and reaction, than semantic field and colloquialisms. I would love to hear voices of openness and flow, compassion and empathy, sketching out possible boundaries and having fun scrubbing them out. In my humble opinion, too many opinions make life too stagnant.