Thanks For Your Opinion

I’ve been saying 2015 is going to be a great year.  It’s a year I’m going to focus on me and not get involved with outside projects like helping other people or starting businesses, or committing to volunteer to a group.  Doesn’t that sound selfish?

Well, I believe everyone needs to have a period of time to reflect and recharge.  Putting out energy and effort all the time is very difficult and draining, especially for an introvert. (And what’s up with all the recent articles on introverts, anyway?)

While I spend this time building myself back up, I also want to take the time and look at myself and others and decide what needs changing.  One of the things that I’ve really gotten irritated with is people’s tendency to state opinion as fact.  And if they’re not stating it as fact, then they’re stating it as an absolute.  If it’s not an absolute, then it’s being stated as a benchmark.  You get what I’m saying.  “This product will make your life easier.”  If not that, then, “This product is the best.”  And if not that that, then, “If you’re not using this product, then you’re not getting any benefit.”

Sounds like Marketing 101, right?  So why try to fight that?  I’m sure I do it on occasion, too.  But that’s something I want to change.  The tone of people when they make statements like that is exclusionary.  What they are saying, to a degree, is, “I use this (or do this, or have this, or even want this), and if you don’t as well, you are inferior.”  Notice that it can actually be used against people when you aren’t even in the group, just that you want to be in the group is enough.

What’s the alternative?  First, understand that your choice is always a personal opinion.  Guard your statement like, “In my opinion, this product is the best.” or “For my needs, this product works best.”  You are allowing the other person to disagree without either of you losing face. Now if the other person responds with a personal attack like, “that’s because you’re stupid,” well, what can you do?  You know what you’re dealing with.

Next, realize that there are many ways of accomplishing the same result. A product or service or lifestyle or anything else is made up of a bunch of smaller parts.  A person’s choice may still satisfy the individual needs even if the whole product is different.  In summary, this is the “that’s not important to me” factor that no one ever considers when making broad opinion-based statements.  Of course, counter-arguments can devolve into “If that’s not important to you, then you don’t know anything about this.”

Understanding and remembering these points is what I want to work on this year.  I don’t want to be that person, that fanboy, that pretentious jerk, that know-it-all.  I want to be inclusive, not exclusive.  Accept people’s choice and don’t insult them for it.  Recognize that your choice may be better-suited (not better) and if so, promote the details that make it better-suited (not better) for that person.  Understand that you don’t know what is unimportant to others and don’t insist they make it important.

A good example I’ve mentioned before is the motorcycling community.  Some people are like “If you don’t ride a Harley, you’re nothing” and others are like, “As long as you’re on two wheels (or three in some cases), you’re cool.”  Exclusive vs. inclusive.  And at the end of the day, we’re all just people.

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