Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Objectivity Pays

This post by Thomma Lyn Grindstaff got me thinking about a few things.
By nature I am objective. Emotions rarely get the better of me in a conversation. I simply do not take things personally.
This objectivity has been underscored by my years reporting. I can hear almost anything.
Consequently, I can engage in a conversation about just about anything with just about anyone and have it not result in a shouting match or name calling.
Some of these conversations have been frustrating and annoying, but I've kept an open mind and an objective stance,  and I've reminded myself they don't mean anything after they're over.
Emotionally-charged people do not understand me. They take it personally when I don't get upset with them.  Those people don't spend long in my life.
I find it downright odd how so many people waste their energy trying to change someone else's opinion because it doesn't match their own.  
Your opinions are yours and are just that: opinions. It has nothing to do with your life or worth as a human being if someone disagrees with you.
It's not a comment on your outlook, attitude, intellect, philosophy, or the validity of your belief structure. It is neither right nor wrong. It's what another autonomous human being thinks about a subject based on his or her education, social environment, upbringing, and life experiences.
I don't like group conversations because most people I've known see them as competitions, not exchanges of ideas. I like a good conversation. I have no time for opinion contests. 
People who don't really listen and who have to be right about everything lose out. Their closed minds won't allow anything else in and that means they are the intellectual equivalent of an algae-choked pond. Stagnant, festering, and unable to sustain life.
Boiling sulphur pond in Yellowstone. I didn't have any algae-covered lake photos so this will have to do.
 Listening to someone else's opinion can refresh your own mind with a new outlook, or the latest conspiracy theory, or a reworked urban myth,  or  a reinforcement of your own ideas.
As a writer it is important to find out about people, places, things, and a good way to do that is to hear what people are saying. 
I don't have to agree with it, but I do want to hear it.


Red said...

What I like to say about your way of handling things is that you have the power. People who have to force their opinions on us cannot back them up and therefore lose the issue whether they realize it or not.
Good post.

Thomma Lyn said...

Excellent post, Leah. I, too, experience communication difficulties with emotionally-charged people who see the world in terms of black and white, "I'm right, and you must agree with my opinions and views, or else I will get mad at you / shout at you / give you the stink eye (etc.)."

I have never understood that kind of attitude. Like you, I love good conversations, debates and discussions, and those things are about learning and understanding other people and how they think about things and see the world, whether or not I actually agree. I love exchanges of ideas, and I don't like to see conversations deteriorate into bitter contests about right vs. wrong. I so agree with you that people who don't truly listen to others lose out on a whole lot.

Laurita said...

Excellent post. I take great joy in talking to someone who knows how to "agree to disagree". It's fulfilling to debate with someone and walk away with a mutual respect.

Kudos to you for your open mind and cool head. There should be more like you.

Leah J. Utas said...

Thanks, Red. I didn't think of it in terms of power, but I do see it and I agree.

Thomma Lyn, when the conversations turn personal I usually leave. I don't understand close-mindedness beyond the intellectual sense.

Laurita, yes. The best conversations are a brisk exchange of ideas with no personal shots. And thanks.

the Bag Lady said...

Excellent posts from both you and Thomma Lyn.
Much food for thought.
To apply it in a more global sense, the idea that we all must have the same opinions and outlook seems to be what fuels so much of the trouble and dissension in the world(...and the Republican primaries..).

Leah J. Utas said...

Bag Lady, so true. We've forgotten the essence of democracy. I say if we're all agreeing how can we be sure it's a free country?
Which dovetails nicely, I think, with your mention of the Republican primaries.

Ron Scheer said...

Thanks for your thoughtful post. I think of myself as pretty "objective" as well, but am often surprised that under the surface is a lot of sadness and anger. The sadness leaks out sometimes and takes me (and others) by surprise. The TV gets my angry outbursts.

I'd also like more people in my life who can agree to disagree. Alas, that takes a kind of trust that is rare.

Redbush said...

I like to think that I am pretty open-minded, but, I do understand what you mean by people who seem to have algae-choked minds. I try to spend less time in those types of confrontations. Some people think that their opinion is the only one that counts which says a lot about them.

messymimi said...

Always be open to the possibility that you may be wrong, and listen, you may learn something.

You put it better, and i agree.

Rikk Utas said...

You are also talking about what used to be the essence of being Canadian - diplomacy, the ability to see a disagreement in opinion as information, as a framework, as it were. We used to be famous for it - and good and helping resolve disputes. I get passionate about all sorts of things, especially injustice and wilful disregard for scientific fact. I use all available information to form my opinion, and if new information comes along, I can change or refine my opinion. I often use the 'I am right you are not' attitude for humour and emphasis in what I write - and some people understand what I am doing, others don't/won't - but I hope that it is clear that dogmatic or fanatic belief in something is not what I am. I am certain that if I go too far, you, for one, will let me know. You'll be wrong, of course... LOL. Keep up the good work, cousin!

Leah J. Utas said...

Ron, thanks. One never knows what one's triggers might be. I've occasionally been been made livid by a book, but for the most part I let live.

Redbush, so true. Close -minded people have a right to exist, and I have a right to ignore them.

Messymimi, that's it. Thanks.

Rikk, true about Canada. Thanks for the reminder of the way it was.
The more info the better, and knowing it's okay to change your mind keeps it flexible.
Of course I'll tell you, cousin, as I don't let being wrong get in my way.

Hilary said...

If we can't/won't change our opinions on occasion, we're not continuing to grow. Of course, that's unlikely to happen most of the time since we've formed our opinions for (usually) good reasons. Bendy without needing to snap.

Leah J. Utas said...

So true, Hilary.