Conviction Vs. Conversation

A lot of good conversations were had this weekend.

One that I came to several times on long rides was the idea of how one presents one’s opinion.

I’ve noticed that, no matter what the topic is, if a person is presenting their opinion as the verified, unquestionable truth, I have a really hard time not becoming really cynical. Whether or not I have any disagreements with the claims, I want there to be room for disagreement and discourse. I do this, too, and I’m sure one of the reason’s it bugs me so much is because it’s one of my faults that I’m confronted with through interactions with others. One particular conversation with one particular woodworker gave me some insight into what might be behind this conviction for a lot of people.

Lack of confidence.

If someone doesn’t feel confident in what they’re saying, they may feel a need to validate their statements by convincing other people. The fear of their own doubt so much that they need to convince themselves by gaining approval from others. Sometimes this can come through in intimidating ways, making the audience feel like they’ll be judged if they don’t agree. Sometimes it can be presented as a helping hand, reaching out to someone who is struggling by offering advice.  The second case can be especially toxic, since the advice in this case would be more about sorting out the first speaker’s personal issues that it is about actually helping the listener. I’m not saying that everyone needs to have the right answer to everyone else’s problem all the time. That’s impossible. I’m just pointing out that an awareness of whether you’re helping them to help them, or helping them to help you.

No one quite has it right and leaving room for discourse doesn’t mean abandoning your beliefs.

There’s only room for gain.


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