In a university atmosphere, groups of people with opposing opinions interact on a daily basis. Some are respectful enough to state their opinions with intelligence and respect, stepping back to allow the other side to present its viewpoint.

Unfortunately, other types of people and groups are a reality both on this campus and citywide. They are ignorant, they are rude and they make any opinionated group look unworthy of attention.

Anyone who has ever spent time in an adult, professional environment knows there is a certain way to approach the presentation of an opinion.

A person’s opinion is only as strong as their ability to make it seem logical and reasonable to a group of people. Those people may already know how they feel, they may even be open to insight, but regardless of their perspective, they must be treated in the same manner.

No one likes being told they’re completely wrong, or that they don’t know the whole story. Many people feel, since their opinions are usually connected to personal experience or research, that they should be treated with respect.

Some people, especially those who feel strongly enough about their opinions to fight for them, will become completely cut off from the possibility of change once their viewpoint is insulted.

It’s human to be defensive of what’s personally important, and the worst idea for someone trying to pull a person even an inch from an established viewpoint is to act like that viewpoint is in any way inferior.

The best way to keep an opinion – especially a strong opinion – from being disregarded as extremist propaganda is to present it with full knowledge and acknowledgment of what the opposing side is thinking.

Consider opposite viewpoints, make it clear that they are not without merit, but state plainly why that viewpoint does not align with your take on the situation. That simple strategy makes actual discussion possible, and intelligent discussion is a much easier route to a solution than an expletive-filled screaming match.

It is both healthy and inevitable for different groups of people to have different takes on current issues, social details and even each other. If everyone thought the same way and saw the same solutions to the world’s problems, there would be no potential for change or improvement.

In order to evolve, we as a society need those who see things differently to have the nerve and the capability to present their views in a rational manner. That way, they can be acted on. It will never do any good if the people that see how things can be improved are not heard because of nothing more complicated than ignorance.

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