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July 27th, 2018

What is the difference between an Opinion and a Point of View?


We might jump to the quick thought that they are the same thing.  But then why two?  Why not just one word?


Words shift in their meanings.  They shift by subtle changes in connotations that then begin to have a long-term effect on changes in definitions. 


A connotation is an additional idea or feeling that a word invokes aside from it’s primary definition. 


So what might we say is the connotative difference between Opinion and Point of View?










Sometimes, this sort of comparative juxtaposition can benefit from throwing in a third word and seeing which word gravitates closer.  Let’s take this word:





Which one is closer?  Most people would probably say that Opinion is closer to a belief than Point of View.


Both are considered nouns, but Point of View implies more than just a static entity.








Why?  Perhaps it’s because the word View is also a noun and a verb.  The word ‘Point’ also has the implication of being located in a larger space. 


There is something about this phrase ‘Point of View’ that is simply a little more active than the standalone word Opinion. Point of View has the connotation that it can change at any moment.  The view can change by merely changing the location of the point.  Take a tiny step in any direction and suddenly the view changes.  It also evokes a sense of it’s own limitation: the larger space implied naturally includes other points from which we might view the subject.  And perhaps most importantly, Point of View has an outward focus – literally.  There is a clear separation between the actual thing that is being viewed, and the observer who can see it from one specific side or another specific side if only the point of viewing is changed.


The word opinion does not do this nearly as effectively.  Opinion is more inwardly focused.  A declaration of someone’s belief more than it is an observation of something going on in reality.  It’s a static noun that does not even imply the possibility of change. 









So often, when asked a question, we are expected to have some kind of fully thought out response ready on hand, as though speaking were merely a matter of looking up an entry already written and logged somewhere in our brain. 


How often do our responses in these circumstances trap us into commitments of belief and expectations of action and behavior that we quickly find ourselves disagreeing with?


How can we take a can-opener to the whole concept of opinion and give our minds a little more breathing room to consider subjects with more thoughtfulness?  Can we design our language to make room for changes in our own point of view? 








How about this:  the next time someone asks you about something, even if you’ve thought deeply about it, try this:


“I’m not sure what I think about this, but the way I see it right now….”








Sometimes we forget how much we have changed over the years.  We need to remember that this also applies to the future:  we are going to change, for better or worse, but luckily we can choose.  One step in doing so is to make a habit of designing our language to anticipate, and facilitate how we might change in the future.  Only if we are thoughtful, can we change for the better.  Setting ourselves up for a smoother, easier transition will simply let a better perspective and a better life arrive a little sooner.



This episode references Episode 69: Two Eyes.  If you’d like to fully understand the reference, please check out that episode next.


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Podcast Ep. 103: Opinion or POV

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