"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."
- Marcus Aurelius
I often overhear people making statements about a person, event or object in a manner that suggests that they have a library of knowledge on the subject. When, in fact, they are just really good at acting like they are educated based on an opinion they developed after reading a tweet over breakfast. Who doesn't enjoy feeling educated?
In my experience, it is easy to walk into a room assuming you're the smartest person. However, holding this position is rather precarious and arrogant. Were I to hold this type of attitude, if someone was to dare challenge me with an opposing opinion I might cut them short, throw down my gauntlet and challenge them to an intellectual dual. That would most likely result in them retaliating in some passive-aggressive manner, as is most often the case when you're from the midwest, and leaving me thinking that I'm awesome.
I value the relationships I have with people. I have learned to value them more than I do my opinions and what they think of my opinions. If I place more value on expressing my lengthy opinion on why the coffee I drink is better than yours or why my choice of cell phone is better than yours, I'm not placing any value on you as a person or giving you the opportunity to share your own opinion. In fact, in that case, I'm practically dictating to you what opinion you should hold in place of whatever opinion you currently hold. In my experience, every attempt I have made at sharing a lengthy opinion most often ends in me feeling great and the other person's eyes glazing over. Not very helpful in my attempt to be someone people want to be around. The only people that want to be around someone like that, are the people that are like that. I'll let you figure out where that ends.
I am not, in fact, the smartest person in the room, nor do I hold the only opinion or knowledge about things. This is a daily truth I have to accept. This conjures up a challenge towards one of my natural tendencies; wanting to be right and wanting to have the best opinion.
Having an opinion is not a bad thing. Opinions are very helpful tools in communicating your position towards something. However, it's important to understand that not all opinions need to be shared. Especially those that are not well thought out or are not backed up with some facts. Opinions are different than convictions and beliefs. I can listen to someone's opinion without having to agree or disagree with it. This saves them the experience of me sharing my own opinion, and saves me from having to invest energy in expressing said opinion as well as endure their blank stair. In most cases, expressing my opinion isn't of much value in the long run. I'm better off enjoying someone's company and simply listening.
This is not to say that I don't have strong opinions or that I don't enjoy sharing them. I do and most often they are well thought out, in my opinion. Ha. One of my daily challenges is focusing on learning when to express my opinion and challenge the opinions of others, and when to keep my mouth shut and listen. I would offer the same challenge to you. Perhaps, you're not the smartest person in the room and that's okay. Though, if you do find that you're the smartest person in the room, you're probably in the wrong room!
It is better to first seek to understand, before seeking to be understood. Should you find that you cannot agree on someone's opinion, agree to disagree agreeably.