How We (Unintentionally) Manipulate Our Friends – Part 2

In my previous post, I introduced the three ways of stating opinions: as if they are facts, as demands, and as preferences. Today, I will discuss the second method of stating opinions: as demands. What does an opinion stated as a demand sound like?

  • “You must ride roller coasters.”
  • “You will visit Bob’s Car Wash.”
  • “You should complete the project soon.”

All of these sentences describe opinions–no one can provide evidence about the morality of riding roller coasters or visiting Bob’s Car Wash. Also notice that opinions-as-demands usually use words like “must,” “will,” and “should.” These terms imply that there are consequences to following (or not following) the speaker. Most people don’t want to be punished, and might not realize that the speaker is actually describing his or her opinion.

It might be unpleasant to know that the second most-often used way of stating opinions is opinions-as-demands. Naturally, this is not always conductive to compromise and empathy. Perhaps we might benefit from stating our opinions as preferences.

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