#213: Express Opposing Ideas & Opinions with Neutral Language

by | Aug 4, 2021 | 21 comments

Imagine your boss has decided on a new marketing strategy… but you know it will backfire and you disagree with the plan.

How should you proceed? How can you make sure your voice is heard without stepping on someone’s toes?

One of the biggest challenges my students have is how to clearly express their opinions when talking with someone who’s opposed to their point of view.

Do you have the same challenge?

Of course, one option is to stay silent but that is not a good long-term solution to English confidence.

A better solution is to use 3 expert strategies and the right phrases to share your point of view in a polite way, even if you have an opposing idea.

And that’s exactly what you’ll learn to do in this lesson today.

3 Expert Strategies to Express Opposing Ideas and Opinions in English

LESSON SUMMARY

Strategy #1: Acknowledge Strengths of the Opposing Argument or POV

Before you disagree, first, acknowledge the speaker’s thoughts and expertise. Highlight the strengths in their argument. This doesn’t mean you agree! But it shows that you’re respectfully listening. 

Then, state your opinion to clearly inform the other person of your thoughts. 

Focus on functional phrases like:

  • In my opinion…
  • It seems to me that…
  • In my experience…
  • Based on my experience…
  • My concerns/thoughts are…

Examples:

  • “Your points are valid and I agree with what you said about the expenses. Based on my experience, increasing the price for more profit could impact consumer demand.”
  • I understand your reasoning and think you make some good points. In my opinion, gradually reducing our expenses will help us save more money for a new house.”

Strategy #2: Focus on “I” Statements

To reduce any tension, it’s important to take the accusation or blame away from the other person. 

Separate the person from the problem and avoid word choices that highlight the contrast (i.e. but, however, I disagree). Your goal is to express your opinion on neutral ground.

Use “I” statements such as: 

  • I think…
  • I believe…
  • I understand…
  • I’m convinced that…
  • I see…
  • I would…
  • I agree…

Examples:

  • “While your proposed cuts will help balance the budget, I think we should be mindful of how those cuts could affect our business.”
  • I understand that you have certain goals in mind. At the same time, I believe we should consider how daycare costs can be minimized.”

Strategy #3: Use the Power of Suggestion

If the topic is controversial or the other person is sensitive to opposing thoughts, utilize the power of suggestions to express your opinion without emotionally laden words. ( = excessively affected by emotion; appealing to emotion as opposed to reason or logic)

Frame your opinion as a question or a suggestion with the following phrases: 

  • Let’s consider/think about…
  • Have you thought about..?
  • What if we…?
  • How about…?
  • What do you think about…?
  • What are your thoughts on…?

Examples:

  • “I agree that the customer’s satisfaction comes first. What do you think about training team members by assigning them a different role every month?
  • “I agree that we should look for a more affordable option. What if we minimize a few expenses until we find a cheaper daycare center?

Time to practice!

Based on what you learned in the Confident English lessons, how might you respond in these two scenarios:

  • Scenario 1: A friend strongly feels that children get a better education at home rather than at school. You have a different opinion. How would you express your opinion without upsetting her? 
  • Scenario 2: Your son’s teacher strongly recommends that he switch from an AP (Advanced Placement) class to a regular class, due to poor performance. You know that your son has had a tough month and that he is able to do well in the AP class. How would you express your disagreement to the teacher? 

The best place to practice and share is in the comment section below.

Have a fantastic Confident English Wednesday!

~ Annemarie

 

P.S. Are you looking for a community to provide support, help you stay motivated, and guarantee that you grow? Check out our Confident Women Community.

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