Are we forming our opinions on other’s premise?

It is in common saying that man is known by the company he keeps. He is the average of the 5 to 7 persons that he spends most of his time with. Naturally, his perspective and viewpoint will be affected by those around him, be it a situation as small as deciding which movie is good, to discussing life and arguing on global issues.

Is this true?

Are we really forming our opinions on other’s premise? Many of you would be thinking a loud ‘No’ right now. I want you to remember the last time when you chose to stick by your opinion that the book you read was ‘awesome’ while your friends said it was ‘boring’. Or the time when you thought a dish was ‘delicious’ when the entire family said it was ‘tasteless’. Most must have settled for an average of the two extreme comments- ‘It’s okay. I like it.’ or ‘it’s good, edible.’ If it’s not so, then you’re in the good ground. But if it is so, you need to face this weakness. You don’t want to be a parrot that repeats, what his fellow mates say, now do you?

Why we try forming our opinions keeping others in mind?

One of the many reasons is the lack of confidence in our own opinion. This makes us depend on others’ opinion, thinking if many people share the same opinion, then it must be good and true indeed. You are no cattle, dear. Don’t follow the herd. Take your own stand. Be brave enough to voice your own opinion, that which you truly believe in.

Another reason is seeking acceptance and belonging in the crowd. You make a statement, a comment to please others, doesn’t matter whether you believe in it or not. But remember that flattery can do no one any good. Rather seek respect by taking your unwavering stand on a point.

Some of us are just unable to make our own opinion. We just don’t know how to. We are told what to do, what to choose, what to wear, what to eat and even where to go, by our elders ever since childhood. We literally depend on them for every decision we need to take. We need to learn that seeking advice is good, but taking the final judgment ourselves can satisfy us the most.

When we don’t know anything about what is being discussed, we don’t want to come out vulnerable about our lack of knowledge. Mingling with the crowd is the safest option.

Are you afraid to form your own opinion?

Are you afraid to speak your mind? Don’t be. “Sabse bada rog, kya kahenge log”- the greatest disease of all is ‘What will people say?’ Others’ opinions matter so much to us. A teen takes up engineering coaching classes instead of the dance classes he wishes so much to take. A woman does not come out of a dysfunctional marriage by taking divorce. We seek approval wherever we go, in every stage of life. What will our parents say? What will the society speak of us?
What good does this do to us? Nothing.

How to try forming our opinions, not on other’s premise?

Don’t jump to the conclusion: You need to let go of all kind of prejudices to get an unbiased view of the topic. Don’t take other’s words for granted. Open your mind to different views. It doesn’t let you narrow your perspective. Learn to consider counter views without judging them too much. Pay heed to your intuition too. Your gut instinct tells you something’s wrong even when everything seems right.

Be informed: Little knowledge is a dangerous thing. You should be informed of the situation thoroughly. If you are not, then it’s alright. It’s never too late to mend. Read a lot- newspaper, periodicals, etc. Subscribing to news updates in your smartphone is one of the best options.

Research: Sometimes it so happens that we tend to go with the herd. We think, so many people can’t be wrong, as happened recently in the Free Basics campaign led by Facebook. But after researching what is the argument between Free Basics and net neutrality is, most of us changed our opinion. Watch interviews.

Widen your group: Network more. You’ll come across so different views. Therefore, someone has rightly said- make a friend who is 15 years older than you and another 15 years younger, both do you a lot of good.

Others opinions do affect us a lot. But we need to sieve away the ones that do us no good. We are affected a great deal by how others affect our thinking. We are psychologically inclined to believe what we hear than doubt it. We need to learn and practice the way out.

First published at


Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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