All people have opinions. They can range from mundane and unimportant issues like the best kind of pizza to extremely relevant issues like politics and social epidemics. Regardless of the matter, it is very important that you form your opinions carefully. Reflect on the different experiences, both your own and those of others, and pay attention to what professionals and specialists express in this regard. Do as thorough a search as possible to form a complete and well-informed opinion. Also, always keep an open mind, since you never know what you can learn.
Method 1 of 3: Base Your Opinions on Experiences
Step 1. Reflect on your preconceptions about an issue
When evaluating a particular topic, keep in mind that experiences (negative or positive) will undoubtedly influence and shape your current beliefs. However, it is important to admit that not all experiences accurately reflect the general context or the fullest truth.
- To form an opinion, you will have to learn to separate feelings and emotions from facts. For example, if you have been bitten by a German Shepherd during childhood, you may now believe that all dogs of this breed are dangerous, or you may even have a more extreme opinion and believe that all dogs are dangerous.
- As you research and form your opinion (such as whether German Shepherds or all dogs are good animals), you will need to put your experiences aside and look at the bigger picture.
Step 2. Talk to a friend or family member about your experiences
Talking with those closest to you could help you gain a better perspective. Human beings tend to trust those closest to you more, so you are more likely to have a different perspective on your best friend than someone you don't know.
- For example, if you want to form an opinion regarding the healthcare system, ask your friends or family about their experience with this matter. Depending on their experiences, you may be able to perceive areas that work and support them, or areas that do not work and should improve.
- However, your friends' perspectives may be aligned with your established belief system, since people tend to surround themselves with like-minded people. Therefore, do not rely too much on the opinions of family or friends who think like you. This will only limit your exposure to valuable and different ideas and perspectives.
- In any case, these discussions could provide you with another view of the situation and more reasons to support your opinion.
Step 3. Get out of your comfort zone to experience something on your own
This is very useful for topics with which you have little or no experience. For example, if you have a preconceived notion that people of a specific culture and even city behave in a certain way, come to the place to experience that behavior on your own. You may be surprised!
Also, if there is a type of food that you find “disgusting”, give it a try. Try to test it in different ways. You may find the idea of eating shrimp gross or you don't like their texture raw, but you might like their taste if you eat them fried
Method 2 of 3: Find Information and Research Topics
Step 1. Consult the available bibliography related to the topic you want to evaluate
Perhaps this is one of the most comprehensive ways to learn about a topic. Read articles and studies online, check out the books available in the library, etc. The more you read, the better your understanding of the topic.
- Read works by various authors. Is this the only author who thinks this way? How many authors support this belief?
- Investigate various angles of the same topic or issue. Sometimes you would be surprised by how many elements you have ignored or not taken into account, so you may discover that the issue in question does not necessarily boil down to two opposite sides. At times, you may discover exceptions to your deepest beliefs.
- For example, during your research, you may discover that statistics indicate that German Shepherds make excellent family dogs. However, like all dogs, there are times when they can become defensive or show aggressive behavior by frightening or feeling threatened.
Step 2. Consider the source when analyzing the information
A reliable source will describe both sides of a problem fairly. Therefore, be careful when reading opinion columns and articles produced by the mainstream media. Often times, they can have hidden intentions and be directed with the intention of attracting the attention and interest of the reader, rather than presenting information based on facts.
- Research the opinion of recognized experts and professionals on the subject.
- For example, if you want to gather information about the healthcare system, keep in mind that the partisan media will not treat the issue impartially. Consulting these sources can be helpful as they will cover various reasons that support your opinion, but be sure to also consult other outlets that may support the opposite side.
Step 3. Analyze the writer's motives when evaluating the information
Do not place much confidence in what you read if you perceive that the author's intention is to convince the reader that his vision is correct (or the only possible one). Instead, focus on objective texts that offer different perspectives on the subject.
- Even though the text is not unbiased, look for arguments against all points of view. This will show that the author has at least considered other perspectives before forming his opinion.
- For example, you may not yet be able to determine your opinion regarding German Shepherds. Reading an article written by someone who has also had a bad experience with a dog may not help you form an informed opinion if their purpose is to convince others that the breed (or the dog) is bad.
Step 4. Analyze other people's debates to find out what other people are passionate about
This suggestion is particularly useful for anyone who wants to form a political opinion, be it on a certain party or a law. Well-informed people will not only present their own point of view, but will also prepare arguments to show why the other side is not favorable or correct.
- If the speaker is very talented, they may be able to change your mind by presenting different perspectives and evidence that you may not have considered.
- Listen to a political debate from public health specialists if you want to form an opinion on the matter.
Step 5. Pay attention to (relevant) details to stay focused
Be careful not to get lost in a sea of trivial information that does not play an important role in the general context of things, since you could lose your way. At the same time, some details (such as the circumstances responsible for a certain event) could help you choose a position on an issue.
Continuing with the example of the German shepherd, details such as the month of the event or if it was sunny or raining do not contribute anything. On the other hand, the additional information about the circumstances that have led the animal to behave in this way (such as if you have taken the plate from it while it was eating) are relevant
Method 3 of 3: Adopt an Open Mind
Step 1. Put your preconceptions aside
Acknowledging your biases is very positive; putting them aside is even better. Don't let your preconceptions keep you from learning something new. Approach each situation objectively (whether it is an article you have read or a person with whom you have spoken) and as if it were your first contact with the experience.
Go to a dog shelter or visit a family that has a German shepherd, and pretend you've never been around a dog. Use certain security measures to interact with the animal and observe the development of the situation
Step 2. Evaluate the reasons why one person might have a different opinion
This tip is particularly useful when the subject is sensitive or considered taboo. As you think about it, ask yourself why the other person feels a certain way. Try to think of two or three reasons why their opinion is valid, even if you disagree with it.
- If you believe that not all health services should be free, do not automatically detract from the opinion of those who do not agree with that. Perhaps you have experienced a situation in which you needed medical attention, but could not receive it because you did not have coverage or you could not pay for treatment.
- Remember that many of these views emerge after your own experience in question; Perhaps the person had the same opinion as you before some specific event in their life.
Step 3. Stay calm and always be respectful when someone offers a different opinion
Don't argue, sigh or roll your eyes, or make malicious or patronizing comments. Instead, deliver a positive and intelligent speech. If you find it difficult to remain calm because the subject is very sensitive for you, remember that everyone has the right to have their own opinion. Just smile and nod your head.
When someone says something that you disagree with, you can reply "I understand your point of view, but have you considered …?" or “Wow! Had not thought of that. Thanks for the perspective”
Step 4. Change your mind if you want to
Don't be afraid to change your mind on an issue. This does not mean that you are weak or false, but that you have gained knowledge or gained experience to make a more informed decision.
A person who changes his mind may have an easier time defending his point of view, since he will have cultivated beliefs on both sides of an issue
- One of the best ways to form an opinion is to trust your instincts. You may not be able to immediately understand why you feel a certain way about an issue, but try to trust your intuition if your point of view is instinctive.
- Keep an open mind on an issue if evidence comes up that contradicts your belief. Keep investigating to see what conclusion you come to.
- When you've done a lot of research and formed an informed opinion, you're ready to share it with others at the appropriate time and place.