According to the dictionary, an opinion is “a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter. It’s also a belief stronger than an impression and less strong than positive knowledge.”
Wikipedia states that “an opinion is a judgment, viewpoint, or statement that is not conclusive, rather than facts which can be proven. A given opinion may deal with subjective matters in which there is no conclusive finding, or it may deal with facts which are sought to be disputed by the logical fallacy that one is entitled to his opinions.”
Abundance of Opinions
During this election and coronavirus outbreak, the internet, the Nightly News, the local newspapers, especially, social media have had an abundance of opinions floating through the airwaves.
I imagine the majority of us, at one time or another, have shared a video or meme on social media then realized later that it was just someone’s opinion or the information was altered to reflect a particular viewpoint or it wasn’t a fact at all.
Plato stated, “Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.”
The Know It All
Do you have anyone in your life that tends to know-it-all and has an opinion on everything? And if you do not agree with him he makes it his life’s mission to set you straight?
The know-it-all is very similar to the right-fighter who is trying to convince you that his opinion is right. Some know-it-alls and right-fighters will quickly turn a conversation into a debate or an argument. He is also very good at spinning a situation so that it appears his opinion is right, whether it is or not and, of course, that you are wrong.
There are basically three types of know-it-alls or right-fighters.
- The know-it-all who doesn’t really know what he is talking about. He has no experience with the subject and hasn’t conducted any research. It’s his opinion and he is sticking with it no matter what.
- The know-it-all who really does know what he’s talking about is obnoxious and aggressive with his opinion at everyone else’s expense.
- The third know-it-all is one who doesn’t know how blunt and offensive he really is. He’s unaware of how he turns people off. He often continues spewing his opinion without any awareness of others around him, even though he may have good intentions.
Know-it-alls and right-fighters both have the need to be in control. If they lose control or someone adamantly disagrees with them, they feel defeated, humiliated, and their ego takes a hard hit.
In order to maintain control, they may try to intimidate you to bring you to a point of submission or they will infuriate you to the point where you are not able to think clearly. In either situation, they have won.
The Clueless Know-It-All or Right-Fighter
Know-it-alls like being the only expert on any topic, even if they’ve never “been there” or “done that.” They will find cracks in any idea you offer, even if it’s correct,” Mark Goulston M.D., F.A.P.A. Psychology Today
In dealing with the Know-it-all who really doesn’t have a clue, just an opinion, remain calm. Don’t allow yourself to react, but look him in the eye with an unflinching gaze for some time, then pause and look away for 2-4 seconds. Resume your gaze a second time.
The calm gaze and the looking away will signal him that he is not able to provoke you. As his anxiety builds he will say something similar to, “what are you staring at?”
Allow him to vent, then calmly say, “I can see I’m not going to be of much help here, so I’m going to leave now. I’ll see you later.”
If he chases after you, calmly repeat what you said and leave.
The Obnoxious Know-It-All or Right-Fighter
The obnoxious know-it-all is the most difficult to deal with. If you have dealt with him before, you know what to expect. Be prepared.
You use a similar tactic as with the clueless know-it-all, but you are going to flip it on him with a “Butter Up” tactic.
Once again, you must remain calm, like with the clueless know-it-all, but in this case, you are going to let him know just how smart he is. Flattery always works. It’s very disarming.
Look him in the eye and maintain a constant, unwavering gaze, then look away for 2-4 seconds. Return to the unflinching gaze. Allow him to finish, no matter how scornful or sarcastic he is. Remain in control of your emotions.
When you exercise control he will become nervous with the steady gaze. They usually will ask, “What are you staring at!”
Without any sarcasm, give him a flattering compliment, such as, “I was just thinking how smart (or clever or brilliant) you are.”
The know-it-all will become confused, not knowing what to say. It takes his control away. He may ask you what you said. Sincerely repeat it!!
He will not know what to do or say.
Say something like, “I really would like to know how you came up with that answer. You are so smart. It was really brilliant. I really would like for you to tell me more, but for now, I have to go.”
Get up and leave.
The Blunt Know-It-All or Right-Fighter
The blunt know-it-all is nothing like the other two. He often suffers from low emotional intelligence, which says he’s really not aware of, able to control or express his emotions. He has problems with interpersonal relationships and is unable to show empathy. In his overcompensation, he comes across as controlling or condescending.
Unfortunately, the blunt know-it-all is truly not aware of how he is coming across or how others are reacting to him.
He often has the best intentions but is at a loss to know why the other person is not receiving it well or is upset.
Before he enters the conversation he is already anticipating the rejection he will experience. Consequently, he feels resentful before he even says a word, which causes his tone to be tight and constricted. He often comes across very aggressively.
It’s important not to react to him as you would the obnoxious or clueless know-it-all.
As he unloads his opinion onto you, avoid reacting in any way. Say to yourself, “He’s not my enemy. He’s not trying to hurt me or make me upset. He just doesn’t know any better.”
Again look him in the eye, as before. Allow him to finish. Again avert your gaze for about 2-4 seconds. Mark Goulston M.D., F.A.P.A. gives a possible dialogue,
“I know you want what is best for me, correct? What you are saying is because you really care, right? Well then, I need your help with something. When you say what you say the way you say it, it triggers a flashback of people in my life who talked to me like I was stupid or foolish or who even bullied me. It causes me to overreact to hearing from you. That makes me unable to realize that you’re actually trying to be helpful.”
Control Your Emotions
It’s important for you not to be defensive or lash out. Ask him for his help. Tell him you need him to respond or ask a question. Or tell him politely that you would rather not hear his opinion.
Be honest about how you feel inside. Be honest about needing his help and understanding.
In dealing with the opinionated know-it-all or right-fighter, it’s important to check yourself. Are you just being over-sensitive? If so, look back to your childhood and identify any abuse or bullying. Is that why you are being over-sensitive? If so, find a way to not take it personally.
Sometimes, as children, we’ve been talked to, abused, and bullied and we have picked up the same manner of sharing our opinions. If that’s the case, there are ways of sharing your opinions that are not hurtful to others.
A Know-It-All or Right-Fighter Language
A know-it-all or right-fighter is a person who is argumentative often arguing or disagreeing with others for no apparent reason, other than to be right and get their opinion approved or accepted.
The know-it-all or right-fighter enjoys disagreeing with people and often does the opposite of what is asked or expected.
He is combative and confrontational, ready to fight, argue, or oppose someone at any time. You can often tell this because of the attitude and the tone in his voice. The volume of his voice begins to increase.
If you don’t agree with his argument or opinion his mood can quickly turn to anger.
The know-it-all or right-fighter may actually use terms like, “In my humble opinion…” or “I may be wrong, but…”, yet if it appears like his position could actually be wrong the claws and anger come out.
It’s now a full-on fight. He seems to relish the fight as much as being right. He actually believes he is right without any doubt. Pride seems to be the fuel he runs on.
When he is in right-fighter mode he will deflect any and everything that does not agree with him. If something gets through his defenses it is then flipped and blamed on the other person.
People who have had to deal with know-it-alls and right-fighters know it’s excruciating to be hammered until they give in and concede the know-it-all’s point of view, but we all know, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”
He often blames you for causing the argument, for not agreeing with him when you must know that he is right, or any other number of accusations.
It seems like the know-it-all or right-fighter believes that accepting a differing view or even accepting that someone else has a different opinion is a weakness.
Instead, acknowledging differing views can be a powerful act of understanding, compassion, and self-confidence.
We all have come across a person or two who is considered “very opinionated” and think it’s their right to educate the rest of us. What we all forget from time to time is that “opinions are not necessarily facts or reality.”
We all do need the right to express our opinions. Tim McGraw stated, “Everyone should have their own opinion and be able to voice it. No matter what it is. Of course, that does not mean your opinion is always right. But, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion.”
There are times when we need to not share our opinions, like in this meme, “If you have an opinion, please raise your hand. Now, put it over your mouth.”
We all need to learn how to share our opinions in a non-offensive manner.
Our opinions are not usually the problem, unless you are one of the three examples above. The problem is in the manner in which we express them.
Some people become very aggressive insisting that their opinion is not only a fact, but is the truth and often try to persuade others that it’s true.
I heard a statement recently that said, there are facts about everything but the only truth comes from God.
How to Express Your Personal Opinion
When expressing your personal opinion it’s important to use words such as,
- I think
- I believe
- It’s my opinion
- In my view
- I heard
- To my understanding.
If the individual speaking is in a more professional or academic setting they could use phrases such as:
- It is worth noting
- It is reasonable to assume
- It is my opinion.
- It would seem that.
You could also use adverbs to express your opinion without being too aggressive and yet qualify your message.
In personal speech and in writing, a good way to express your opinion without being offensive is to begin statements with these phrases:
- I think…
- I believe…
- I feel…
- In my opinion…
- I would say…
The Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12 states, “…whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them…”
Remember the tactics above. Don’t get sucked into their know-it-all right-fighting.
- When the know-it-all right-fighter attempts to suck you into the encounter. Stop. Excuse yourself and walk away. If you continue it will only become an argument or a fight.
- Exercise active listen. Be aware of where the conversation is leading.
- Stay neutral.
- Everyone sees situations differently. There are no two people on this earth with exactly the same perspective. Respect it.
- Respect the person. That does not mean you have to agree or disagree.
- Take a serious look at your own opinions and the way you express them.
- Don’t give the know-it-all right-fighter the right or opportunity to affect your identity or invalidate you as a person.
- Don’t get suckered into trying to show him where he is wrong and you are right.
- The most important factor is to forgive, admit when you are wrong, help to heal any and all wounds, give grace and mercy.