Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But when is the right time to share it?
Most of us have had an awkward encounter where a friend of family member is being very vocal about their opinions, and we might become offended, bored, or annoyed. Through compassion, we can generally find a way to end the conversation with kindness. But how do we avoid putting others into similar situations?
Think back to the last time you shared your opinion with others. Did your opinion help solve a problem or create positive change? If the answer is "no", that's ok! Being honest with ourselves, and owning our choices is how we grow. Moving forward, here are some questions to consider before sharing your opinions with others:
Was your opinion asked for?
If your job doesn't involve sharing your opinion, then there's no reason to share if nobody asked you to. Imagine sitting down to eat your favorite meal, and constantly being interrupted by others telling you what they think about your food. Would you be grateful, or annoyed and upset?
Are you the best person to ask?
When someone asks for your opinion, this is generally because they trust you. Because of this trust, you should consider whether someone else might have a more informed opinion. For instance, if your neighbor wants your opinion on his taxes, would you be more qualified to help than an accountant?
Is your opinion based on fact and experience? Or are you sharing someone else's opinion?
Sharing an opinion without prior experience or research is what leads to ignorance. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone lived their lives based on the most popular opinions they had read.
Are you emotional about this subject?
For instance, imagine you were in a car crash with a drunk driver that left you injured. If a lawmaker asked for your opinion on proper punishment for drunk drivers, would you be able to answer objectively? Or would your emotions cloud your judgement?
What will sharing your opinion achieve?
This is possibly the most important point to consider. If sharing your opinion is unlikely to have a positive outcome, then your best choice might be to spend your energy on something more productive. For instance, if you have an idea on how to cure cancer, sharing it with a doctor would likely have a positive outcome. Sharing it with your bus driver would probably be less effective.
Words are Cheap.
We've all heard politicians claim to be in favor of something, only to flip their opinion weeks later. Many of our elected leaders act in ways contrary to their outspoken beliefs or opinions, and this should only reinforce the idea that an opinion is only worth what it accomplishes. Who we are is not defined by our opinions and beliefs; we are defined by our actions. When we realize our connection to others, and The Universe as a whole, we have a responsibility to ensure that our actions are not selfish; everyday we have a chance to make the world a better place to live. By learning how best our opinions can serve others, we take a step towards being the change we wish to see.