Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

Three Words:

"In My Opinion"

Browns Valley, California, USA

July 22, 2019

This essay, Three Words: "In My Opinion", was written at the same time as Just Another Piece In The World: Access To Mastery.

I am indebted to Timothy "Tim" Hanni who contributed material for this conversation.

I have a friend who's something of a wine expert - at least she considers herself to be. She's prone to saying things like "This is a great  Cabernet.". She may be right. She may not be. Who knows? But what she doesn't take into account, is we each have our own unique tastebud configuration  (if you will). That means we each taste differently ie we each taste physiologically  differently. It's a scientifically proven fact. She can say it has a great taste for her. That's totally valid. Indeed that's what's true for her. But it may not be true for everyone else. When she says "This is a great Cabernet" without factoring that in, she's talking taste, a subjective experience, in absolute terms. So she comes across as over-bearing to people who disagree with her wine assessments, especially to those with less wine experience than she has.

If you gave me a pink shirt as a gift (or any other pastel color for that matter), here's what I would do with it: I would either politely decline it, or I would accept it and then earmark it to donate it to Goodwill  later. Look: I'm appreciative of gifts, but I'm just not a pastel color guy. I'm black and white and bold. "But it's a great  color, Laurence. You'll look good in pink" you protest. I say "That may be valid for you ie it may be valid in your perception. But in mine, it isn't a great color for me.".

We each perceive colors differently - or said more rigorously, we each perceive colors physiologically differently. More than that, we're each complemented  by different colors, and in particular we're each complemented by different color clothing. And there's not one single universally great color for shirts that complements everyone, any more than there's one single wine that tastes great for everyone. It's all subjective. Ask any color-coding clothing consultant: what looks good on one person may not look good on another. Pink works for Jack Nicklaus. No kidding! Jack looks great  in pink shirts on the back nine. But they're not for me.

"We're going out for dinner tonight, Laurence.". "Great! Where are we going?". "There's a new Indian cuisine restaurant in the city. Their curry is the best in the Bay Area.". "Oh, thanks but no thanks. I'll pass.". "But why?". "I'm sorry, I'm just not into hot and spicy.". "But you don't understand: it's the best curry in the Bay Area.".

The trouble for those who consider themselves to be experts in matters which are purely subjective (in fact for more than merely self-styled experts: for anyone speaking subjectively about anything) starts when they unknowingly omit adding three words to their assessments. The three words are "... in  ... my  ... opinion". Look: adding these three words usually as a suffix ("It's a great cab in my opinion", "Pink is a great color in my opinion", "It's great curry in my opinion") doesn't make their assessments any more (or any less) accurate. That's not the focus here. What it does  do is make them more listen-able.

So I cut to the chase: "Wait! You forgot the three magic words.". "The three magic words?". "Yes, you forgot to say 'It's the best curry in the Bay Area in my opinion.'. Your 'It's the best curry ...' doesn't negate my 'I'm not into hot and spicy' so don't push it. It's rude and inconsiderate. It makes you come across as over-bearing.".

When you impose your opinion on my different experience as "The Truth", you're not listen-able. Suffixing it with "... in my opinion" (thus creating space for listening given it truly is an opinion) grants me the space to consider your opinion or not, without having to be emphatic and / or defensive about my own. That's the way you set up yourself and your subjectivity to be listen-able, regardless of your point of view, regardless of your opinion, regardless of whether you agree with me, or not.

Communication Promise E-Mail | Home

© Laurence Platt - 2019 Permission