Decision Making is Educational
“Keep a Distance…from Opinion”
Most of us despise being on the receiving end of opinion about how we choose to run our lives, how we could be better, or why our lives have turned out the way they have. As much as we don’t appreciate other people’s take on our decisions and behaviors, most of us still fall into the trap of giving opinion without regard for others people’s needs or feelings.
“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance”
Keeping an emotional distance…
Ignorance will provoke us to express opinion at the wrong time, to the wrong person, at the wrong level, in the wrong manner.
Sometimes we’re guilty of ignorance. We may unintentionally take advantage of an occasion to confirm that we are good human beings and cannot resist offering a helping opinion to those who seem to be suffering from misfortune. However, even in those rare circumstances where opinion is intended to console, we should always be careful to evaluate our company and the situation before we express any opinion.
Because when others are not in the frame of mind to receive our opinion, he will perceive every opinion as a conspiracy against him, even when it’s unintentional. And when such a scenario is established, only the negative will be penetrated, and other valuable subjects which surface during an attempt at communicating, such as stories, experiences, and feelings, will be wasted.
At the same time, we need to assess whether we ourselves are being influenced by our current emotions, or the previous emotions that we’d carried over upon arriving at a meeting with friends, family, or acquaintances. Given our existing state of mind, are we emotionally equipped to provide opinion, with the appropriate facial and nonverbal gestures, in the right tone and manner, which would not provoke ill feeling?
Keeping a mental distance…
Some people claim to know us better than we know ourselves. They do not base their opinion on research, reflection or objective assessment. They don’t realize (or choose not to see) that they are giving opinion based on their own values, perspectives, lifestyles, and strategies. They assume that what applies to them will and should apply to others.
They also assume that they are more experienced, more educated, prettier, stronger, and/or wealthier, and these “powers” justify that others should follow their judgment of how one should live. Such opinion givers are blinded by vanity, betrayed by imagination, or deceived by ignorance.
For example, parenting can be a sensitive subject. Some people don’t realize that they are in danger of trading off decency, good-will, and valuable friendships for the self-gratification of giving harsh opinion on other people’s parenting practices.
One strategy that may help us practice restraint from offering parenting opinion is to keep in mind that every child is an individual. Some children have general and typical needs, while others need specialized attention. A parent who shares his or her frustrations and fears may be too embarrassed to share the detailed process leading up to their emotions and behaviors; therefore, unless we have taken the time to understand and empathize, an uncalled for expense of opinion usually does more harm than good.
When distance brings us closer…
Before we’re too quick to offer opinion, it may be helpful to keep in mind that the truly knowledgeable person will not give an unwarranted opinion. The wise usually keep silent in observation, learning, reflection, and empathy.
When the wise keep a mental and emotional distance, it doesn’t mean that they don’t care. It means that they care enough to decide that giving people room to be awakened and to grow, according to their own pace, without added burden of opinion, is the most valuable gift of friendship, mutual respect, and trust.
And by being mindful in anticipation rather than by being overbearing in vanity, the wise will help bring us closer to maintaining or gaining friendships, a clear conscience, and/or our own modesty.
Then…from them, we may learn to practice keeping a distance, when forming and (possibly) expressing opinion, which will bring us closer to transferring such knowledge to others.
By being less fixated on opinion-giving, we will make room to form useful communication and answers that may help us help each other to function harmoniously within our interdependent society.