Respect others’ opinions

Being open to others’ opinions leads to more productive and respectful conversations


Anna Owsley, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

When we hope to have a civil and pleasant conversation with a group of people, we are told to avoid three specific conversation topics: politics, religion and money. We all know nothing is better at firing people up than two clashing opinions in the same room, especially when it comes to politics. However, we should not be avoiding entire conversations just because differing views of the world’s issues exist. Instead, we should be comparing and contrasting our views with respect for each other.

Because of the way each side paints the other in a negative light, political views can add to the idea of an “us” and “them.” When these divisions are brought up in conversation, it’s hard not to not see the other person as an attack on your own personal views, but not antagonizing them is key. Instead, we should treat everyone as individuals with a valid opinion, whether or not we agree.

Being on the Debate team has really opened my eyes to see that any opinion can be backed up by evidence, and it has prompted me to be more informed about my views on issues. Now, when I talk to my friends and family about controversial topics we can have productive discussions instead of just arguing without understanding why we believe what we believe.

When sharing ideas productively and respectfully, I think having an informed opinion is beneficial. When neither side has any knowledge on the subject, it is difficult for each side to understand the other. In contrast, when the discussion includes warrants for beliefs and the exchange of developed ideas then it is easier for each side to be understood.

Branching off from that, I believe that refusing to understand the other side is most significant reason for a disrespectful conversation. Whether you truly believe you are 100 percent correct or not, you should not put another person down for disagreeing. By listening and responding instead of shutting down the other opinion as stupidity, we avoid discounting other people’s opinions.

We need to toss out their pride and come to the conclusion that they we human and not always correct. I believe that so much of the hate in our world will disappear when we can learn to understand the other side. That goes for every person, as well as myself.

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