The right of being wrong

In a democratic system, people are allowed to have different opinions. Quite often there is even no single truth. As both cartoons below illustrate, individuals can look at the same thing(s) or situation from different perspectives – without one being more right or wrong than the other.



(courtesy Malcolm Evans cartoons)

Recently I came across an artwork by the German-French artist trio Troika. Watch this video of their hanging steel sculpture, called: “Squaring the Circle”, and compare the perspective at the beginning of the movie with wat you see at the end…

Also as a business presenter you may have people in the room with different viewpoints on the topic(s) you cover in your talk. As I explained in an earlier post about “the duck and the rabbit”, it depends on how you present things, but also on what your audience sees and/or wants to make of them.

So, be persuasive in presenting and defending your case, but keep in mind that some members of your audience will have diverging views or may come to deviating conclusions. Always be open, tolerant, and respectful for other people’s sentiment and be prepared for a good conversation (or a harsh discussion).

It’s always better to adopt a good mix of Aristotle’s rhetorical appeals:

  • Ethos: try to earn your audience’s respect and show them that you have the right to speak. Don’t be dogmatic, but don’t compromise on your principles either. Prove by all (verbal and non verbal) means that you mean what you say.
  • Logos: state your opinion consistently, clearly and crisply, and support it by reason and proof. Provide facts and figures, but beware of presenting faith, beliefs and opinions as hard evidence.
  • Pathos: remember that enthusiasm is contagious and can arouse positive emotions. If you manage to appeal to the emotions of your audience in a sincere and purposeful way, you may eventually break down their barriers to accepting your position.

And, finally, you could use the Q&A at the end of your talk to give people with a different opinion a forum to make their statement. But never allow any of them to dominate the conversation, or – even worse – override your message and hijack your presentation.

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