“Strong opinions, loosely held” is a concept I agree with – but it needs an addition …
Strong opinions, loosely held – and moderately stated.
The danger with having strong opinions is that we are inclined to also state them strongly, which closes the door to conversation and debate. At their most extreme, ‘strong opinions’ feel threatening and intimidating to the people around us. While we might believe our opinions are ‘loosely held’, it doesn’t sound like it to everyone else, so they don’t tell us what they really think.
It’s important to have opinions – if we don’t stand for something, we can end up standing for nothing. However, we need to recognise that not everyone will agree with us [obviously!], and be comfortable with changing our minds when presented with alternative perspectives and new information.
This often starts with a question. When someone has a different view to us, we might say “Hmm, that’s different to how I see it. How did you arrive at that?” This isn’t about searching for the weaknesses or flaws in their thinking – we aren’t trying to catch anyone out. Instead, we are looking to increase our understanding of other people and the world around us.
That begins with self-awareness around our own opinions and beliefs … having the courage and vulnerability to say “This is what I think – and I might be wrong.”
Strong opinions, loosely held, and moderately stated.