I’ve realized something that continues to resonate with me, day after day.
We live in a world where, day after day after day, we are confronted with opinion polls, editorials and social media telling us someone else’s opinion. We respond to conservative, liberal, socialist media. We watch our friends and family members voice their opinions subtly/loudly on their social media pages/handles. How many people do you know that have based their entire point-of-view on a laundry list of other peoples’ opinions rather than formulating their own opinion.
Did I ask you for your opinion?
Social convention would say that, because I willingly signed up to the social media site, I did consent to the hearing/seeing of your opinion. But, in real life…
I sat down with a couple people today and experienced something significant. I experienced people who were honestly shocked by the fact that I wanted to hear their opinion. Truth be told, one of the conversations ended with “I hardly ever get asked anymore.” Have we really reached such a point of individualization that we don’t ask another person’s opinion. Or we are so inundated with what other people are sharing, that we assume we know.
Two things are becoming clear to me.
- We guard ourselves from other’s opinions.
Do we hear so many other unsolicited opinions that we assume that we know what is going to be said already? Are we so much a people pleaser that, if we ask someone else’s opinion, we will no longer be able to sustain “what we want” and we will cater to another’s wants/opinions? Do we only care about what we want and, therefore, not actually care to ask what someone might think? Are we so inundated with other peoples’ opinions that we can’t stand having one more opinion added to the pile. To this, I have no answer, but I know that most people would rather not have to consider someone else’s input.
2. People won’t share because they don’t think anyone will listen.
I actually think that wise, learned people are not speaking up because they don’t think they have value in sharing what their opinion is. But their opinion is completely valuable and likely built upon knowledge, experience and circumstances that you could never know. We are elevating the words of those slight in mind and subduing the thoughtful giants.
Ultimately, the Bible speaks of this. Ecclesiastes 9:17 says this,
The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.
For how long will we be so focused on our own self-preservation that we will miss the wisdom of those quiet words around us. What is it going to take for you to become self-aware enough to know who you need to ask for their opinion? I heard at a leadership conference last fall, we have 2.4 “blindspots”. Let’s hope some of our strongest opinions aren’t also occupying the same space as our biggest blindspots.
What does it take to ask for/give an opinion?
Love & respect. Personally, I will ask the opinion of those I respect. And gaining respect can happen in an instant, or it can take years. So, be patient. I will also ask for an opinion from those I love. To whom will I give an opinion? To those that I love and respect and with whom I won’t be offended if they don’t seem to deeply consider my opinion.
Who, in your world, would say “nobody asks us”? Those are likely the people that need to be heard the most.