Opinions & Opinionated

In today’s world where we are divided by a multitude of perspectives and beliefs, disagreements are a natural and inevitable part of human interaction. However, a significant challenge arises when individuals disagree with a particular opinion and are unwilling to engage in a constructive discussion. This phenomenon, often rooted in emotional attachment, cognitive biases, and the fear of changing one’s view, presents a complex dynamic that hinders meaningful dialogue and intellectual growth.

When faced with individuals who hold opposing views and resist open dialogue and discussion, it’s important to note that such behaviour is often a result of emotional responses. People tend to anchor their beliefs to personal experiences, cultural influences, and social affiliations. The old phrase, ‘stick with what you know and love’ is exactly what people tend to do. They stay with the safe and comfortable of the world. The result of this is that any challenge to those opinions can be interpreted as a threat to their self-concept. This emotional attachment fuels defensiveness and reluctance to engage in discussions that may challenge the status quo.

Cognitive biases further exacerbate the problem. Confirmation bias, for instance, compels individuals to seek out information that reinforces their existing beliefs, while ignoring or dismissing evidence to the contrary. This instigates an echo chamber effect, where individuals are surrounded by like-minded opinions and are shielded from diverse perspectives. Consequently, they become less equipped to engage in productive conversations that require critical thinking and consideration of alternative viewpoints.

The fear of the discomfort that arises from holding contradictory beliefs, can also discourage people from participating in discussions that challenge their opinions. Changing one’s perspective involves admitting a degree of uncertainty and vulnerability, which can be intimidating. To avoid this discomfort, individuals may opt to stay within their comfort zones, disregarding any evidence or arguments that contest their views.

The prevalence of social media exacerbates this issue, providing a platform for people to broadcast their opinions while limiting genuine interaction. Online discussions often devolve into polarised debates, where participants are more interested in asserting their own beliefs than engaging in thoughtful exchange. The anonymity of the internet can lead to a lack of accountability, enabling individuals to be more dismissive, disrespectful, and resistant to differing opinions.

So, how can one navigate this challenge and foster productive conversations in the face of unwavering resistance?

Empathy and Active Listening: Approach the conversation with empathy, acknowledging the emotional attachment someone might have to their opinions. Active listening demonstrates respect and encourages reciprocal openness.

Avoid Confrontation: Instead of attacking someone’s beliefs, focus on understanding their perspective. Avoid confrontational language that might trigger defensiveness.

Shared Values: Identify shared values or goals as common ground, helping bridge the gap between opposing viewpoints.

Ask Open-ended Questions: Encourage critical thinking by asking questions that prompt reflection, rather than pushing for immediate agreement.

Patience and Persistence: Changing deeply ingrained beliefs takes time. Be patient and persistent, gradually introducing new information or perspectives.

Offline Conversations: If possible, engage in face-to-face discussions. Offline interactions often foster more nuanced and empathetic communication.

Lead by Example: Demonstrate open-mindedness and willingness to consider other viewpoints. This can inspire others to do the same. Two questions that I ask of people regularly are, “But why is that?” and “can you educate me please?” This gives the other person a chance to not only see that you are willing to engage, but also that you understand that there may be more than you realised.

The challenge of encountering individuals who adamantly disagree with our opinions and resist discussion is a complex issue rooted in emotions, biases, and fear. Overcoming this challenge requires a combination of empathy, patience, and strategic communication techniques. While it may not always result in an immediate change of heart, fostering an environment of respectful dialogue can contribute to a more open and intellectually diverse society. There will be times when it may result in a friendship or acquaintance going their separate ways due to these disagreements. However, any good friendship will always realise and understand that we don’t all think the same and be willing to talk about their differentiation of opinions.


I spoke to a woman recently who stated, “I have 2 questions that I use often when talking to people about things.” When I pressed her for those questions she responded, “the first is but why? and the second is can you educate me please?”  She continued “it’s the one way that I can understand the other persons point of view, even if I disagree with it.”

The world would be a boring place if we were all the same. What the world needs to do is respect those with differing opinions and not be afraid to debate politely and respectfully.