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How to Manage Differing Views in Discussions?

7 March, 2018

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Often, we find ourselves in the company of our neighbours, friends, family, club or hobby mates etc. For most people who have retired, or staying at home, this meeting with people around in the society is something to look forward to. This is a time when they get to talk, discuss, and share things with each other. It is important to have interactions if we need to have a constructive life as part of the society that we live in. However, there is also a possibility that at times, these discussions can turn a bit too serious.

As people age, their beliefs, opinions, feelings, views, etc. are usually much stronger. With age, comes wisdom; and with wisdom should come the ability to see things with a more open mind and also the maturity to accept differing viewpoints. Sadly, though, this may not be the case always. Hence, during conversations, you may find someone who is rather vocal and rigid about their views. At times, it becomes difficult to keep a rational conversation going with such people. So, one should also learn to handle such situations deftly.

Understanding differing views

When someone starts taking an aggressive stand on any topic, it is important to hear that person out. It is equally important to understand why that person is taking that stand. Sometimes, if we hear the other person out fully, we may be able to relate to their stand. The views expressed may be because of their personal experiences or even simply based on facts. So, it is important to establish why someone is expressing a differing view.

Many times, it is also important to understand that there is no right or wrong for many topics. A classic example is whether a love marriage or an arranged marriage is better. All of us have enough examples on this to prove either case. If the discussions are about such topics, it is better not to carry on the discussion beyond a point and agree to disagree. By all means, all differing views should be heard, but there should also be the wisdom and courage to accept that the discussion cannot have a meaningful ending as it can go and on.

On other topics, after hearing all views, if there are facts to arrive at a rational discussion, or if the issues at hand can be solved by a collective effort, that route may be explored. It is important to remember that discussions are not courts, where we give out judgments on issues, or people with differing views. Nor are they debates where it is important to argue and prove a point. It is only when we pay equal attention to all differing views that a society can thrive on its diversity.

Avoid controversial topics

Two of the most controversial discussion topics in this country right now is politics and religion. Both of these are highly individualistic topics. We may have our own reasons to follow a certain political party, leader or a certain faith or religion. This is the right given to us by our Constitution. If these topics are discussed, it may go out of control at times, especially if people are extremely rigid. If it is observed that this happens often, perhaps its best to agree not to discuss such topics. There is a saying on social media nowadays that says that cataract is the third biggest cause of blindness, while religion and politics are the first two! Simply goes to prove that these two topics can make people blind to anything, but their beliefs.


As humans, all of us have an immense scope to improve every day. However, that is only possible, if we realize the weaknesses in us and accept them for what they are. If we always believe that the problem lies with others, then we don’t grow and learn. So, we need to learn to introspect and understand why we behave the way we do and if it was possible to have done things differently.

If we are the ones having the rigid views, perhaps it’s time to introspect and see why we are like that. If on the other hand, we find it extremely difficult to listen to or agree with people having rigid views, then we should introspect to understand why we are not more open about it. The true victory of the seniority and age only comes when we are able to truly understand these conflicts and learn to manage them effectively. After all, the younger generation is watching and we need to set an example. If we cannot manage ourselves, we may lose the moral high ground to advise them as well.

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