How To Voice Your Opinion Without Sounding Like Kanye

Love him or hate him, one thing is for certain: Kanye West definitely has being assertive down pat. I can’t say that I agree with the way he goes about sharing his opinions most times, but we do have to give the guy credit in this case; he never shies away from voicing his opinion.

In my opinion, being opinionated (see what I did there), has been given a bad rep. If you’re opinionated, you’re often seen as bossy or intimidating– two characteristics that can make building and maintaining relationships just a tad tricky. Sure, screaming your thoughts for the world to hear on every subject imaginable is excessive, but nothing is more disinteresting than someone who doesn’t have a preference or perspective on anything. We all have that one friend who, when asked “what do you want to do,” are guaranteed to respond with “it doesn’t matter to me, you choose.” IF I WANTED TO CHOOSE, I WOULDN’T HAVE ASKED IN THE FIRST PLACE.

So how exactly does one master this art communication without pulling a Kanye?

  1. Listen

There is a reason we were biologically designed to have two ears and one mouth; for them to be used in that proportion. Aggressive opinions are often driven by two conversational elements: speed and domination. If you are just constantly speaking and firing off your points like rapid fire, of course the other person you are conversing with is going to back down and disengage; you aren’t giving them much of a choice!

  1. Paraphrase

Opening your statement by briefly summarizing what has been said about the matter is not only the best way to transition into your ideas, it also ties back into the whole listening matter. If you’re repeating what was said, clearly you must have listened. Paraphrasing also helps to maintain engagement with the person who you’re speaking to and can actually help improve support for whichever statement you are trying to get across as it enables a smoother comparison of points.

  1. Ask Questions

It’s impossible to provide a relevant and intelligent perspective on a matter if you don’t fully understand what is being discussed. Your opinion is exactly what it sounds like. It’s your personal thoughts on a specific subject, and as personal as these thoughts may be, one of the easiest ways for your opinion to come across as offensive or inappropriate is if it’s rooted in ignorance. Questions provide clarity, can be a testament of your intelligence, and also show genuine interest in the conversation. If a person believes that you care about what they are talking about, they are less likely to receive your statements as offensive or over opinionated.

  1. Admit Mistakes.

There is no better way to gain respect in a conversation, discussion, negotiation, etc. than by admitting you made a mistake. The most opinionated people (like Kanye) have a certain arrogance to them, because when conversing, they give off the persona that they are never wrong. It’s undeniable that such perfection is possible, but being naive enough to hide from errors is an easy way for a person to ignore your thoughts.  

When you reflect on the basics of communication, I find it humorous that most tips and tricks made by communication and psychology experts expand upon social interaction lessons we were taught back in our first days of kindergarten. Sure, we have  learned a thing or two along the way, but technological and economic developments have made socializing and interacting with one another much more difficult than it needs to be. People are people, and so long as the basics of respect are maintained, you should be Kanye-clear!

Featured Image via 2009 VMAs Screengrab

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