Do You Have an Opinion? … Express it!

Arvind Kejriwal squats outside Krishi Bhavan to make a point. He heckles the Home ministry and incites the common man to do the same. Agree with this style of functioning? Reject it outright…? In either case, you have an opinion.

Sachin Tendulkar retires…you have a point to make. Rahul Gandhi makes a speech….you have lots to say.

Having a point of view is a reaction to a stimulus. It is our response to an item of interest, concern or importance. It could be political, social, economic or religious. It signifies cerebral activity and emotional response. It is very often involuntary and immediate. However, to make it decipherable and understandable, we need to follow a structure and a flow, so that the expression is eloquent and the message, articulate.

Expressing an opinion necessarily requires the following:

1. Access to information – Could be accidental (I happen to have heard someone discuss this on the metro today), habitual (I read the Editorial today of Economic Times) or by design (My friend suggested that I read ‘The Black Swan’ by Taleb)

2. Seeking further facts on specific items – Requires effort (I Google’d this extensively and spoke to XYZ about it) and is done intentionally.

3. Being receptive to divergent points of view – Following articles of political/ social commentators (I read Tavleen Singh’s article in The Indian Express, I agree with Ramchandra Guha, I cannot see Shobha De’s point of view). This is an essential element of opinion making because it is likely to make you aware of possibilities, analyses and implications that you may not have thought of.

4. Formation of a point of view – Having gone through the first three steps, a point is most likely already taking shape. Putting pen to paper is the next logical step.

5. Articulation – Finding the appropriate tone, it is time to tell others what we think. Just let them know WHY we think, WHAT we do. The most critical element of this exercise is having thought-through reasons for our opinions. We must remember that, that is what will separate the grain from the chaff.

The ability to opine, debate and discuss have always been considered as a measure of a person’s intelligence and leadership. From Plato and Aristotle to Rousseau and Machiavelli, opining has been the thread that has held great minds together. From radicals like Hitler and Mussolini to real change leaders like Gandhi and Mandela, the ability to mobilize millions on the basis of their conviction was praiseworthy. Whether or not that would necessarily hold true for us common folk, it would most certainly provide someone an insight into our ability to think and react with any degree of authority.

And do remember that this someone could be a potential employer, a likely supervisor or even a possible fan!

Disclaimer: The article has been written by Prof. Vinita Johorey, Assistant Professor- Business Communication at Fortune Institute of International Business (FIIB)