Discussions about “pro-life” topics are common in college classrooms yet often hostile to the cause, especially when you fall on the side of conservative opinions.
For many young people who don’t sympathize with the ever-changing progressive ideas about topics like feminism, gender identity, and abortion, the easy solution is to keep your lips sealed and nod your head while others speak their mind in agreement.
But sometimes you may have to speak your mind, either by being put on the spot to share your opinion with your peers, or simply because you feel that to refrain from speaking is just the same as agreeing with the opinions that you don’t believe in.
The fall semester at most colleges is beginning, so before you pull out your hair listening to your professors and peers, check out these tips to form your opinion and articulate it well.
- Listen to your peers.
The best way to form your argument well is to listen to what your peers are saying. Jumping into a response that’s completely pivoted against their opinions will turn off ears to what you have to say and lead you to waste your breath. Begin by listening to what they have said and acknowledge any points that you can possibly agree with. Perhaps you both care about women, but simply see that care in a different way through offering women help instead of guiding them to abortion.
When you start with your similarities before moving to your differences, you establish trust and camaraderie with your peers and help them feel like their opinion matters to you. If you want them to take your opinions seriously, you first have to take them seriously.
- Remain calm
Too often we get fired up and feel beaten down by prevailing opinions, so that when we do decide to speak, we burst from our frustration and seem angry, sensitive, and defensive.
Although it is easy to respond in this way, your arguments and opinions will come across as senseless and without reason, and instead fueled by feeling. Remaining calm and articulating your ideas thoroughly shows that you are an authentic believer in your cause. Sometimes it’s easy to feel that we need to show how passionate we are about our opinions by the manner that we share them, however, others are more impressed when you can respond maturely and without seeming tense, and your etiquette might even elevate the whole conversation in the room.
- Don’t change their minds, help them think
When we decide to speak up about our opinions, we might think that we have to change everybody’s mind about their own beliefs.
The truth is that you probably won’t change many people’s minds. However, you can help them think through their own beliefs and give them perspective about how they see the world. Chances are that your argument will be more effective with this in mind. And who knows, maybe somewhere down the line others will come to change their minds and agree with you.
In my own experience, I’ve had people approach me a while after I spoke up about something in class and wanted to speak further about it with me. These conversations won’t come about if you try to change people’s minds, because they won’t see you as someone open to discussion and dialogue. Stay confident, stay calm, and look forward to the real conversation you can have with people about even the most difficult topics.