Opinions Anonymous

For recovering opinionistas that are tired of division.

Have you got a list of values that you hold so dearly, that they actually define who you are?

  • I do too.

And I used to really struggle with those that didn’t share those values.

As a child, I would passionately argue my convictions and not listen to those that did not share my opinions.  (Because they were simply wrong!)

As a young professional, I thought it was horribly rude for people to roll their eyes in disagreement – but the shaking of my head as others spoke – screamed how wrong they were. (And how unwilling I was to listen.)

Hi! My name is Chery, and I am a recovering opinionista! (…Emphasis on recovering.) Somewhere along the way, I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror, and I didn’t like what I saw.

So I began to listen more and talk less. (Not because I didn’t have opinions, but because I didn’t know how to share them and really listen.)

Along the way I heard personal stories from people who had opposing views about some of the values that I hold most dear. And I began to really consider what it was like to walk in their shoes and even wonder if I’d experienced what they had, if I would hold those same views.

In most cases, my convictions did not change, but my understanding, compassion and creativity increased:

  • So when the issues would come up again I was no longer focused shoving my opinions down their throat, or winning the debate.
  • Instead, I became more focused on listening, learning, and finding solutions that included and honored the needs of others while still allowing me to be true to my values.

Every one comes from a different life experience and has witnessed, researched, or considered things you haven’t.  

One of the divisive issues that I have closely followed over the past few years is about police officers in America and the people they agree to protect and serve.

If you’ve followed that issue as well you have witnessed the emotional debates about the importance of their work, the challenges they face, the sacrifices they make and the corruption that eats at all of their credibility when it exists and when it is perceived.

This summer I watched the 10-minute, TED talk below, by Police Officer Chip Huth and was in awe. The tipping point was NOT when they realized that what they were doing wasn’t working, it came when they learned to see people instead of seeing problems. That lesson and their results will exceed your wildest expectations.

Anatomy of Peace Book CoverAfter viewing the video, I purchased the book titled The Anatomy of Peace, that was written by The Arbinger Institute – the group that trained Chip and his team. And then devoured the book.

This is one of the quotes from that book…

We end up gathering with allies – actual, perceived, or potential – as a way of feeling justified in our accusing views of others.  As a result of this fact, conflicts try to spread.  So what begins as a conflict between two people spreads to a conflict between many as each person enlists others to his or her side.  Everyone begins acting in ways that invite more of the very problem from the other side that each is complaining about. 

If the video and the quote resonate with you, please get your hands on the book, and begin to think about how these skills could be leveraged to help your family, workplace, community, nation or our world.

Over the next month I will share additional articles about how this kind of thinking and behavior is being leveraged in different places and what people are learning.

PLEASE SHARE:   What have you learned from those that don’t share your values?  

Check out part II in this series here:  Benefits of learning from those that think differently.

Want more on this topic?  Check out the posts below.



Image credit:  Ace Concierge

President, Giana Consulting

Chery Gegelman is an adventurer that loves to learn. ...Deep conversations, books, travel, and daily living are all food for growth.

As a speaker, facilitator and workshop leader she creates energizing environments that reflect God's grace, tear down walls, help people to consider new perspectives, and inspire change.

Chery is the Founder of Giana Consulting and Conversation Safari's, listed as a Great Leadership Speaker by Inc., writes a recognized leadership blog and has co-authored two leadership books.

THANK YOU for commenting and sharing!

YOU ARE INVITED: To add your comments and to share your professional, personal and faith-based stories. Diverse opinions, compassion, and inspiration are welcome! (I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.)

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2 thoughts on “Opinions Anonymous

  1. One of the hardest things for me to do to stay quiet when I really want to offer up a suggestion to share my opposing view. But like you, Chery, when I forced myself to stay still and listen deeply, I learned that the opposing view was actually fascinating.
    Thanks for your great article and TED talk sharing!