How to Know When to Voice Your Opinion (Hint: Not As Often As You Think)

Simple Takeaway:

Just like a seed planted in the wrong season won’t produce a harvest, there’s also a right and wrong time to voice your opinion. Before giving your thoughts, ask yourself: Have I considered the nuance of the other person’s perspective? Is my aim is to help them? Am I sure I’m not drunk on emotion? Am I sure I’m not committed to being right? If you check all four boxes, fire away (in love, of course).

There’s a season for everything that we do.

Knowing what the time calls for is one of the most important aspects of life, because doing things out of season causes tremendous problems.

Imagine planting a seed too late or trying to harvest a crop too early. It loses its value because it’s being handled inappropriately and out of season.

That’s why it’s so important to understand when we should voice our opinions and when we shouldn’t.

Here’s are 3 things to consider to help you determine if you should share your opinion or bite your tongue:

Do you really know what the opposite opinion is based on?

Imagine walking up to a box sitting on the ground.

From a distance, you can see that the side facing you is blue. As you get closer, you start to see that the sides and top are also blue.

If someone were to ask you what color the box is, you would probably say blue.

Now imagine this person flipping the box around and showing you that the other side is red.

Of course, you couldn’t see that. And you were certain you were right.

There are some things we just can’t see from our perspective no matter how hard we try. We need to see it from another person’s perspective.

If you’re not going to take the time to see every side, then your opinion is probably being voiced to make yourself feel good, not to help others.

Will arguing your viewpoint benefit the other person? 

Ask yourself, “Am I voicing my opinion in order to be right, or do I genuinely want to help someone?”

Ranting about problems doesn’t help. It only stirs up meaningless conflict. 

If, however, you have a one-on-one conversation with someone you disagree with, then voicing your opinion is more likely to be helpful.

If you can’t see how your opinion will directly help someone and encourage a positive resolution to a problem, then you’re probably better off not saying it.

How emotional are you?

Emotions make us drunk.

Research has shown that when we’re in an emotionally-charged state, you’re susceptible to bias. And bias impairs your judgement.

Just like you should avoid having important conversations when you’ve had too much to drink, you should also avoid important conversations when you’re drunk on emotion.

You’re not thinking clearly and you’re probably going to regret what you say.

Learning when to say something is just as important as learning what to say. The right thing said at the wrong time is ineffective.

You can be 100% right, but if your emotions are high and your delivery is skewed by that emotion, the truth being communicated won’t land properly.

We have an obligation to serve one another, and one of the best ways we serve one another is by speaking the truth in love. But often we get caught up in speaking the truth and we forget about the “in love” part.

In reality, communicating truth that’s helpful – in a way and at a time when it can be received – is one of the most loving things we can do.

How dedicated are you to your viewpoint?

When we argue, most of the time we’re just looking to justify our own viewpoints.

Research has shown that once we adopt a belief, we become less able to see the fallacies of our arguments. It’s called the “illusion of argument justification“.

Our beliefs are a major part of our identity. When something challenges our beliefs, we’re willing to ignore facts to avoid the risk of damaging our identity.

But that’s not particularly helpful when we’re trying to serve people well.

Before you go into a conversation, zoom out and give yourself the gift of perspective.

Notice how committed you are to your viewpoint and pay close attention to what’s causing your commitment to it.

Typical culprits of closed-mindedness are fear, pride, and jealousy.

Take a step back and honestly ask yourself:

  • Have I considered the nuance of their perspective?
  • Is my aim is to help them?
  • Am I drunk on emotion?
  • Am I committed to being right?

Then we stand a chance to engage the culture in a way that has a lasting positive impact.