With the just-completed Trump inauguration, it is worth taking a moment to look at how we handle voicing our opinion in the face of those who disagree. Each method has advantages and disadvantages and should be considered carefully, depending on your desired outcome.
1. Join a protest and carry a sign.
This method is useful because it shows the quantity of people who are unifying behind a common cause. For those who might believe that they have a universal mandate on a certain path, when they see a large number of people in disagreement, they might pause and consider.
This disadvantage is that there is no discourse and so cannot convince anyone that they are incorrect. Because I began this post referring to the Trump inauguration, I will continue to use the present political framework to explain. For those on the left that believe that millions marching will cause the right or those in power to look within, ask yourself if the sight of hundreds of thousands of tea party protesters 4 years ago caused you to reconsider your moral compass.
2. Rant on Facebook
The advantage here is that you are able to reach many more than you can by shouting in bar or at your friends in your living room.
The disadvantage is that if you use this method frequently, those who don’t share your ideology will stop following you. Eventually the only ones who see your rants are those who already agree with you. They may learn a new argument or clever phrasing, but nothing will change.
3. Have a rational conversation
The advantage is that you and another are engaged in discourse. If you get heated in your responses or behave in an aggressive manner, your co-conversationalist will let you know by responding in a like manner. This is truly the only one of two ways to change someone else’s opinion because the other person will actually hear your perspective (if you frame your perspective in a thoughtful and courteous manner). This method also gives you the opportunity to hear the other’s opinion and respond. A word of warning: some view this method as an attempt to ‘win’ the discussion by proving the other person wrong. It does not work because they othe person will feel attacked and defensive. We are never able to consider an alternative viewpoint when we are feeling defensive.
The disadvantage is that you are only able to reach one person at a time.
4. Write an article/book or speak to an audience
The key to this method is to be respectful and rational. Any other approach will ensure that the only people reading your work is those who already agree with you or are seeking ways to undermine your perspective. Any other approach than respectfulness and rationality ensures that those who disagree with you will not hear your point of view.
The disadvantage is that unless you are already famous, no one will see your words or hear your speeches. This is the approach for the already-established.