Friday, April 23, 2010

Opinions differ, relationship remains intact

We were sitting on a nice sunny Saturday and enjoying our special weekend lunch at Vishal's apartment. As usual, during the course of our normal daily discussions a serious issue hit the table. We started discussing the relevance of money in human relationship. I was of the view that money (or physical facilities) is required for fulfilling the needs of our body and relationships requires fulfillment of emotions and feelings in addition to money. While, Vishal was of the view that money alone can guarantee smooth functioning of everything including relationships in the current society. Initially, we were giving arguments in favor of our opinions and responding to each other's arguments. Until now, the discussion was continuing in the spirit to share the opinions and gain some understanding of the issue from the knowledge of each other. Gradually, it started turning into a debate. We started to dig our knowledge base and find some argument to either support our view or counter other's view. Finally, after some time we were no more supporting our view, rather we were fighting for our ego and superiority. At this stage nobody was listening to anybody. We were just engaged in proving each other wrong at any cost. (In fact, you can realize at such times the trueness of the statement that 90% of the quoted facts are made up on the spot). And finally debate ended at a sore note when we realized that it has been 3 hours returning to the same point again and again and it was not going to reach anywhere even if we continue it for another 3 hours. So, better end it here and get back to our business and thus avoid further scars in our friendship.

Well, what happened there? An important discussion which started in a good spirit, why did it end in conflict? Let us analyze the situation. We both start with a feeling of relationship and acceptance for each other. As far as these feelings remain, the discussion goes on smoothly. As the discussion progresses, opinions start differing and that's where the turning point is. If I see opposition to my opinion as opposition to myself, which is not naturally acceptable to me, I throw the topic into the dustbin right away. It is of little concern to me what I or the other person is speaking. From then onwards, my sole aim in the discussion is to prove myself right and the other wrong. The ideal situation would be if I can see that opinions of two people may differ based on their understanding, exposure, surrounding and many other factors, but other person is still my friend. We don't make our friends or for that matter any relationship on the condition that our opinions should not differ. But the difference of opinion should not adversely affect our relationship.

But, the discussion is not over yet without a conclusion. If our opinions differ that means one must be right and the other wrong. So, how to settle the question of right and wrong without any conflict? There is a simple way to do that. Let both of us share our knowledge on the issue and make some proposals. Other may agree with it or not. Proposing does not imply that other will accept it straight forward or even afterwards. So we leave it for thinking and verification of the other. If I have verified the issue and am assured about its universality, but the other is still not able to understand it due to his lack of competence, I don't oppose him or criticize him, and rather it is my responsibility to work for increasing his competence with a feeling of relationship. The bottom line in any conversation is that I don't have to prove any point; nobody accepts that. The approach should be that I have understood something and want to share it. Now it is up to the other person to accept it or not. My relationship with the other person is more important than proving my point. Ultimately, the opinions may differ but the relationship should remain intact.


  1. When I say I agree with you. It boosts your ego. You feel happy. You don't learn anything in the process.

    And when there is a conflict You learn a lot (if you are open-minded). The problem arises when you think you know all too well.

  2. Wow, this brings back some memories. I got into an argument with a person very recently like this which was over some technical discussion of course, and the argument went on for almost a week :) not continuously but once for 2hrs almost on three days over a span of a week or ten days.

    I then realized after everything was over, how immature I was on catching the same point and beating around the bush. I am glad that such a thing has happened at the very beginning of my career and I can now curb my ego and most importantly I have learnt one thing. Listening completely to what the other person says, though sounds simple but practically very difficult, works wonders. I am still learning it, but I believe in rather remaining silent and listening to what others say than trying to enforce my point over others. This is also not always good, you should argue, but argue within your senses, and realize at what stage you should end an argument.

    Good post, I liked it, at least I am happy that I am not the only one who has been through such a situation :)

    Keep posting, and thanks for reminding that even I have a blogger account :P

  3. A discussion (an attempt to reach a conclusion) over any issue is always good until it becomes a debate (an attempt to prove your point).