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17 January 2019
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My opinion? I should be open to your opinion

16 December 2013

I wrote the other week about how thrilled that I was when someone publicly disagreed with something that I had written.


Being able to challenge an idea is important. One of the reasons that I do not support the vogue of 'political correctness' is that it denies so many opportunities for discussion and debate. The idea that someone else’s view could offend me is something I accept, but being offended is a personal choice and I would rather understand why someone holds an opinion that I don’t agree with rather than take against it automatically. 

Who knows whether or not one of us might persuade the other to change their position if we don’t discuss it? Unless I discuss it with them I am never going to have the chance to understand why they hold that view, and if I can’t understand it I am missing an opportunity to learn.

I could put this down to my star sign of Libra, but I think that is more likely to be a mix of a natural inquisitiveness together with a long working career as a negotiator. Learning came naturally to me as a small boy and I still love to learn new things. Negotiating is partly the art of compromise, or at least appearing so, but successful negotiation is about learning what the other party really wants.

Over the years I have developed some highly successful teams, but few people gave many of those teams a chance. We succeeded where I was able to work with people who had open minds' people who would try, would learn and who were open to the possibility of there being another way of doing things. These were people who could see colours in all their shades, not just black or white. Life is never that simple.

It always disappoints me when I come across intelligent people who cannot, or will not, look beyond their entrenched views. We need all of the intellect we can muster to be put to good use; we need to develop thinkers as well as doers and we need them in all fields.

I don’t care what your background is, but I do care about your opinion. Being prepared to accept that not everyone thinks like you do is a small but worthwhile step, because the opposite is really bigotry – and that's something we should all be seeking an end to.

Have a good break and I wish you peace (whether you agree with me or not).

John Bowen is an FM consultant