Feeling or an opinion? Learn the difference, and how to speak up courageously without putting the other person on the defensive.
How good are you at expressing a feeling? Do you find it hard to speak up when you feel hurt? Most of do. And it’s difficult to understand the subtle difference between expressing a feeling or an opinion. Watch this video to learn what to look for, and how to express yourself in a way that’s connected and calm…even when you have something delicate to bring up.
Feeling or an Opinion?
I recently interviewed Jocelyn Johnson of the Happy Partners Project. She shared a wonderful blog post about the difference between a feeling and an opinion. In this video, I dive deeper into this topic.
When we have something difficult to discuss with someone, starting a conversation with “You…” puts them on the defensive (“You never listen!”). Instead, we start with “I feel”.
But…after that great start it can still go badly if the next word is “like” or “that”, as in: “I feel like you aren’t hearing me”; or “I feel like you don’t understand”; or “I feel like it’s time to….”
We are unconsciously disguising our opinion as a feeling. The addition of the word “like” or “that” is what makes it an opinion or judgment.
“I feel sad”; “I feel angry”, “ I feel frustrated”; I feel irritated” are all feelings.
When we share our feelings, no one can make us wrong. It’s simply what we feel, and we’re entitled to our feelings.
When we share opinions, we’re speaking from our thoughts, not our emotions. Another example of opinions is if someone says, “I feel let down” or “I feel disappointed”. They are experiencing feelings, probably anger and frustration. But instead of owning and acknowledging those feelings in words, they subtly express their opinion that you have failed to do something they think you should have done – which is most likely just going to make you defensive!
A good way to speak about feelings is using three words:
- I feel…
Here’s an example:
“I feel annoyed when you leave your dishes in the sink, because I end up having extra work to do.”
No one has the right to tell us how to feel (or not feel), and while we can offer others the opportunity to help us feel better, ultimately it is up to us to deal with our feelings.
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