Showing posts with label opinions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label opinions. Show all posts

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Do You Have an Opinion or a Persuasive Argument?

What makes the difference between an opinion and a persuasive argument? People love their opinions, but are based on thoughts, feelings, and wishes of the individual and don’t always have validity. It doesn’t matter if one is in college, a seasoned manager or running for political office, creating a persuasive argument leads to credibility. Their emotions may drive people, but it is their logic that makes them worthy of your ear.

Persuasive arguments are reinforced by substantial information that is reasonable and logical in its construction of the conclusion. The average person can see the argument as reasonable based on shared knowledge. They can follow the information and make the same conclusion as the speaker.

Opinions based on emotions and quick judgments often lack enough supportive information to be worthy of attention. They can use emotions to draw a crowd into a frenzy but lose their appeal once people start to question the logic. Over time, the emotional appeal fades the speaker's credibility suffers.

A problem with not evaluating what others are saying is that most people simply regurgitate the opinions of others within their social networks or people with authority without critical thought. This leads  to the spreading of false information among a broad group of persons.  They didn't look into the details of the information or whether or not it is true before spreading it.

The inability to truly think about issues and come to an independent conclusion is based in mental laziness and lack of self-confidence. We can see that destructive nature at work on the path to war, bullying behavior, or any other situation where emotions are stirred, but critical thinking is missing. Those who are least likely to think about issues or stand up for their beliefs are open to manipulation.

Leaders who want to create credibility and develop a justifiable argument should state their main proposition and then support that proposition with reliable information. Their argument should have enough supporting facts to justify that position and lead to a reasonable conclusion. Well thought-out arguments gain more support than flimsy opinions.

The justification for arguments should be from credible sources that have facts to support their claims. For example, a generic search for a term on the Internet will return lots of opinions but it is up to the reader to seek out credible information to formulate their  opinions. Perusing government websites, research, studies, polls, and industry knowledge is better than relying on the abundance of unsubstantiated fluff on the web.

The ability to see logical holes in other’s arguments allows for a more critical view of presented information. People are always seeking adherents to their cause and regularly manipulate information to justify their main points. Being able to question that information and where that information comes from makes a big difference in creating persuasive arguments.

It has been said that no one truly owns themselves until they can create an independent opinion. That opinion should be based in fact, information, experience, logic, and knowledge versus social considerations. Stating the main points and supporting those points with factual information is likely to raise credibility and differentiate a substantiated argument from unsubstantiated opinion. When people speak with  knowledge, they can gain long term followers to their cause.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How Social Position Empowers Our Opinions

Sharing knowledge and information is an important part of learning and development in society. Active members improve upon the social construction of knowledge. The same process occurs in all groups regardless if it is a network of friends, a classroom, or on a macro social setting. A study in the Academy of Management Learning & Education brings forward the idea that social position determines whether or not we participate or withhold information in discussions (Yi-Shun, et. al., 2014).

Think for a moment how we sit among our friends and discuss life events and seek to create social agreement on those issues. Sometimes these may be personal issues while at other times they are more functional in nature like business or politics. Providing information and sharing perspectives is a natural part of that process as each member evaluates this information and comes to a conclusion.

Eventually a shared coconscious will evolve where negotiated understandings solidify into a shared perspective. Without full participation in the group only a few perspectives will rise to the top and this can derail reality construction that applies to all members. Withholding or stifling information can have a negative impact on how groups perceive information and the type of conclusions generated.

As more vocal members push for the acceptance of their perspectives and other members fall silent the creation process is thwarted. Group think starts to skew the understandings of people as they remain silent and accept the status quo of consensus. Their own personal misgivings begin to lessen as group think forms around newly developed shared principles that may not be accurate.

Those willing to stand up and disagree have a confidence and empowerment level that minimizes the destructive effects of group think. The study helps show how people who are socially connected are also more likely to stand up and state what they believe while those who are less confident in their social impressions are less likely to stand up or voice their opinions.

The findings are important for the management of teams. It is beneficial to ensure that all people feel that their opinions are valued and an integral part of the overall group process. If negative or bully behavior in a group occurs other members will be prompted to not bring up their opinions or ideas that limit the functionality of the entire group. Socially connected people with higher levels of empowerment are more likely to voice their opinions than those who feel they are at a lower social status. Providing opportunities for all members to voice their opinions develops higher levels of decision making. 

Yi-Shun, W., et. al. (2014). What drives students’ knowledge-withholding intention in management education? An empirical study in Taiwan. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 13 (4).