How We (Unintentionally) Manipulate Our Friends – Part 3

In my last few posts, I’ve discussed how people tend to state their opinions as if they are facts, and at other times, state their opinions as demands. Today, I’ll discuss the least-often used method: opinions as preferences.

Stating opinions as preferences occurs when the speaker uses a phrase such as “I think,” “I prefer,” or “I would like.” Take these statements, for example:

  • “I think that riding roller coasters is fun.”
  • “I prefer that everyone visit Bob’s Car Wash.”
  • “I would like you to finish the project soon.”

Stating opinions as preferences is the least used way of stating opinions, but it is the only way that implies equality between the conversation’s participants. The speaker comes across as more humble and allows for a less confrontational discussion. Of course, the speaker’s body language, tone of voice, and word choice can still create a hostile atmosphere (just as nonverbal cues can create a friendly atmosphere even when opinions are stated as is if they are facts or as demands).

Still, stating opinions as preferences is good for establishing a sense of equality between two parties. This also is more likely to induce compromise and establish trust, unlike tricking the listener by stating opinions as if they are facts. The other alternative, stating opinions as demands, implies the listener will be punished for disobeying the speaker’s commands.

Which method do you like to use in conversation with your friends and family? And which method would you like to hear used more often?

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