Exchanging opinions can be tough, it can get emotional and grow into an argument that makes people angry at each other. Frankly, I hate this part. What is sad to me is that some people get so emotional, they don’t see things that they have in common with their opponent. I have promised myself that whenever I get into a conversation with a person whose opinions seem different from mine, I will not forget to look for things that we have in common. If I keep those in mind, I can learn something from the other person and help her or him learn something from me. Most importantly, if we know what our common goals are, together we will be stronger and do things that are more difficult to accomplish alone. In contrast, if we focus on our differences, collaboration becomes almost impossible.
Sometimes (oftentimes!) when I have a discussion I catch myself thinking that I just want the other person to agree with me. How can they disagree?! But the truth is, it is unlikely that I will be able to persuade him or her that they are wrong (at least, over the course of one conversation). My best shot is to try helping them partially reconsider their position, but I should be open to reconsidering mine as well. In ideal, we will both be able to learn something and to grow.
What about getting into an argument with somebody who, it seems, has nothing in common with you? If you start this conversation, don’t be surprised to find yourself mad and frustrated. If you can’t handle it, don’t even start. But even this exchange of opinions has its benefits. First, you develop your arguments, get ready to think on your feet and have smart and polite replies to whatever the other person says. Second, if the conversation takes place where others can observe it, your arguments might actually help the passive participants better understand your position. Even if you do not persuade your opponent, you might win over some of the listeners/readers in the process.
Overall, I think that exchanging opinions is super useful and important. The key is not to raise your hopes too high, not to get too emotional and frustrated, to be honest and polite, and to always look for opportunities to grow and collaborate. You will find them!