Opinions are great. They allow for people to expresses their own viewpoints, thoughts, and feelings about a certain topic or idea. All ideas that have the ability to be discussed allow for more than one correct side or position. While the presentation of many different viewpoints is great as it shows the various sides of an conversation, having multiple varying positions can be difficult to manage and understand. Most opinions are often emotionally charged as they are very personal to the speaker. In any case, listening to the other side of a conversation or to a viewpoint or opinion that is different from your own is vital. In today's society, it is sad to see the lack of respect and understanding that people have for others. Conversations that are centered around a controversial topic too often end in an argument and with both sides being mad at the other. What good is a conversation if you are not willing to listen to the other person. When did listening become an option?
Listening to someone doesn't and shouldn't mean that we are listening to them to be ready to counter what they have to say the minute they finish speaking. It should be the listener remaining attentive and respecting them and what they have to say, even if it greatly differs from your own point of view. If we do not treat others and their opinions with the same respect that we would want to receive, there is something drastically wrong. Listening isn't an option but rather a necessity.
Three summers ago, I attended a summer camp that focused on teaching the youth about becoming effective leaders in today's society. Throughout the week we learned different methods of how to better communicate with other people and how to show greater respect for all individuals. One of the methods we learned resonated with the room and myself. It stated "Seek first to understand, then be understood." This simple yet profound statement has affected the way in which I interact with people to this day. While it is not always easy and I do fail to fully listen every time, I always have these words racing through my mind, especially during a conversation where I may have a different opinion. What good is it to have a conversation where no one is actually listening to anyone? What is to come of that? Remember to listen and treat others with respect, for if you do this to someone else, someone else will to it to you.
"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen." ~Ernest Hemingway