People Who Give Their Opinion Like It's a "Universal Truth"

People Who Give Their Opinion Like It's a "Universal Truth"
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

They’re the types of people with a big ego, selling us their opinions like they’re absolute truths. And they always use a condescending, critical tone of voice.

“It’s obvious you always go for the wrong guys. I’m telling you they’re is going to cheat on you the first chance they get.” “I’m telling you for your own good. Just get that idea out of your head because it’s too much for you.” “These things happen to you because you have no personality…”

A lot of us have heard things like that before. It’s important to remember that even though we have a right to give our opinion, it’s wrong to use it to hurt, humiliate, or look down on someone. 

Also, we have to know that opinions are just personal expressions. They’re simple reflections of the emotional and cognitive world of the people broadcasting them.

But, as Leonardo Da Vinci said, the worst error humans can make is to believe in the ruse of their own opinions. Because there’s no worse ignorance than when someone starts to think their personal evaluations are universal truths. 

a person spewing their opinion is like a lion

Opinions Can Act Like Shackles

Opinions can oftentimes be what shackles us. Let’s think about that for a moment. When someone gives their opinion of us, they’re doing it from their personal reality, experience, and values. 

Everything’s still normal here, it’s to be expected, and we understand it. But, we can also apply to this process something psychology calls “attentional bias“/”confirmation bias.”

That is, there are people who only perceive what they want to see. People who limit themselves to only observing some aspects in order to spew inaccurate and extremely biased judgments. 

So, the so-called theory of rational choice also tells us that a lot of heuristics we apply to our thoughts and opinions respond to simple “intuitions,” simplistic evaluations that lead to errors.

This all undoubtedly helps explain why certain people apply their personal shackles in making conclusions as questionable as: “women are weak by nature.” Or, “children need a firm hand in order to learn.” Or even, “anyone who practices a different religion from me is a terrorist.”

So we should be very careful around people who use their opinions like they’re unique, exclusive, and universal truths. Because nothing defines someone like the comments they make.

On the other hand, something you’ve probably seen is how someone who spouts off these decisive and damaging opinions tends to react very negatively, even seeing it as a personal attack, when we try to refute their arguments with logical, reasonable principles.

They won’t accept or listen to them, because those mental shackles shape a very rigid pattern of thought. In fact, there are a lot of people who define these kinds of people as real life “trolls.”

a woman

If You’re Going to Give Me Your Opinion, Make it a Useful One, Please

We all can and should give our opinion about whatever we want. But, we also have to do so from a position of respect, not from the throne of offensiveness.

It doesn’t matter if it’s truthful and hurts; if it’s useful and critical, it’s welcome. 

So, we’ll try to control evaluations that, even if we don’t realize it, come straight from the amygdala. The place where we get emotions like fear, hate, or fury. Where we give an opinion with the intent to hurt, label, or look down on others. We do it with the explicit desire to be above others.

a lion sculpture by the sea with leaves blowing in the wind

On the other hand, our society loves strong opinions. But they’re weakly supported. Think about opinions like: “vote for me or the world will be in chaos.” Or, “buy this product and you’ll be happy.” “Get thinner, dress like this, do this, and you’ll have social success.” We have to learn to think differently.

Let’s learn to detach ourselves a bit from our opinions. That way, we can see what else is out there.

For example, let’s not tell our friend the dress she’s wearing is awful. Let’s ask ourselves first if she’s wearing it because she likes it. Or, because she just dresses differently from us.

Let’s remember the useful filter of Aristotle’s three truths:

  • Are you completely sure what you’re about to say is true?
  • Is what you’re going to say good?
  • Is the opinion you’re going to broadcast going to be concretely useful for that person?

If the answer to these three questions is yes, let’s do it. Let’s take the step of giving our opinion to improve our coexistence, practice mutual respect, and create more stronger relationships.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.