How To Confidently Deal With Opinionated People

How to confidently deal with opinionated people is a challenge to most of us.  But there are techniques to help you achieve it. 

You can:

  • Limit the influences in your life to those who truly matter
  • Discover who you are and what you think on matters of importance and
  • Empower others to have a mind of their own

This article explores:

  • the types of opinionated people
  • how to set boundaries
  • what to say when faced with an opinionated person

So you confidently deal with opinionated people.

Women walking forward in high heels putting their best foot forward to confidently deal with opinionated people

Put your best foot forward and face opinionated people head on

Limit The Influencers In Your Life

Everyone has an opinion on something.  But that doesn't mean everyone's opinion should influence you in the same way.

If you identify whose opinions matter you will be able to confidently deal with opinionated people.  My article Whose Opinion Really Matters And Why It Should will help you identify those that matter the most to you

Getting Clear On Who You Are And What You Think

When you know what you stand for, you become more confident in your opinions and less susceptible to the opinions of others.  

But being clear on who you are and what you want isn't always easy.  And, it all starts with knowing your values.  If you need help to identify your values then I've got just the thing for you.  My new workbook called What Do You Stand For?  Inside you'll find easy to follow exercises to get to the root of what you believe in.

Doing The Right Things

You can do all the right things:

  • Limit the influences in your life to those who matter most
  • Discover who you are and what you think on matters of importance
  • Empower others to have a mind of their own

But, despite all this, some people still push the boundaries you set up – whether that’s well-intentioned or otherwise.

You know the type—people who have an opinion on absolutely everything and are happy to share it with anybody who will listen.  They tend to be know-it-alls and what they’re looking for is control.

Woman with head in hands

Trying to please everyone doesn't work and will cause you stress

According to the psychiatrist and author Mark Goulston, there are three kinds of opinionated people.

‘The first two are truly offensive, whereas the third is just obnoxious:

  • The opinionated know-it-all who doesn’t know what she’s talking about is crazy
  • The opinionated know-it-all who knows what she’s talking about is obnoxious
  • The opinionated, blunt person is just out of touch with how much she turns people off.’

These people impose their thoughts on you, making it hard to avoid their opinions and criticisms.  It’s tough and quite frankly exhausting.  The trouble is, they think they’re always right and their opinion matters more than anyone else.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have clear boundaries to deal with these opinionated people, you suffer. You end up trampled on, or you try to accommodate them, and subsequently dither on every decision you make.  When you dither in this way, your credibility suffers, and your confidence decreases.

Remember, you can’t please others and please yourself Every. Single. Time.

Why It’s Difficult to Deal With Opinionated People

Opinionated people are difficult to deal with because they believe that they are always right.

So, the only way to deal with opinionated people is to set boundaries.

If you aren’t used to setting boundaries with opinionated people, it can feel scary.   You might also feel mean or unkind to say no.  ‘Perhaps they’re trying to be helpful’ you say to yourself.

But once you learn how to set boundaries, you’ll be amazed at how confident you feel.  Besides, setting boundaries is healthy and brings with it a hefty dose of satisfaction.

What most people fear is confrontation, or worry about what other people think.  You might also fear you’ll lose your job if the opinionated person is your manager!

But that’s not the case.  Setting boundaries with opinionated people doesn’t have to feel like you’re asking for trouble.  Or that other’s will think less of you.

How To Deal With Opinionated People

There are several strategies you could use to deal with opinionated people.  Here are a few that will help you out:

Grin And Bear It

You could try and bite your tongue and not say anything. 

I’ve added this point a little tongue in cheek.  Forgive me, but I know how attractive this might sound.

The trouble with this approach is it doesn’t resolve the issue.  If you want to confidently deal with opinionated people, you need to take action.

Use ‘I’ and ‘It’ Statements

When you use ‘I’ and ‘it’ statements, it decreases blame and allows you to be assertive without making accusations.  It communicates that you feel strongly about the matter and are willing to take responsibility for it.  In the next section, I’ve included some scripted examples.

woman taking a deep breath

Gather you inner strength and maintain calm

Remain Calm & Use A Respectful Tone

Have you noticed that opinionated people tend to be very forceful?  So sure that they are right.  Sometimes they can come across as overzealous. 

If you allow your frustration or annoyance to get in the way then the situation can easily turn confrontational.

The best solution, is to remain calm and use a respectful tone.  The tone of your voice matters as much as the words you use.  Treating the person in this way can make it easier to get your point across.  

You may be seething on the inside, but to the outer world you're as cool as a cucumber.

Be  Polite And Firmly Say Thank You

This point follows on from the previous one.  When you are calm and respectful, people are more likely to listen.  This will allow you to say a polite and firm thank you so you can bring the conversation to an end.

Change The Topic

A great technique to use when you want to confidently deal with opinionated people is, change the topic, a tactic that’s worked for me many times. 

When someone is in full flow, letting forth their opinion on what you should do!!   I’ve managed to stop them in their tracks by asking them an unrelated question.

Basically I divert their attention by asking them a question about something they’re interested in.  The question is usually something harmless ‘Oh, before I forget, how is your (insert dog/cat/spouse/child/grandmother/hobby etc., you get the picture.

You’ll be surprised how easily people are distracted when you ask them about themselves!

In meetings when I’ve wanted to halt a rant, I’ve waited for them to take a breath and then asked a question of someone else. 

Walk Away

Ultimately if the ‘know-it-all’ doesn’t stop, find a reason to walk away.  Sometimes you’re not going to get through and if you find yourself getting upset, then making a graceful exit is your best option.

woman calmly speaking

Be calm, composed and get your point across

What To Say To Opinionated People

If you want to set boundaries and build your confidence to deal with opinionated people, then have some phrases you can use at the ready.  Here are a few examples:

When someone injects their opinion about what you “should do.”

  • Smile and say, “Thank you, I’ll consider that with my options.”
  • Gently say, “Thank you for your opinion, but I’m confident in what I’m going to do.”
  • Look them in the eye and say, “Thanks, I’m good with my plan.”

When someone makes an inappropriate comment that puts you on the spot

  • Ask them, “I’m sure you didn’t intend for that comment to be harsh. Could you clarify what you just said?”
  • You could ignore them, but they might restate the comment to make a point.  The best action, in this case, is to walk away.

When someone is overstepping the mark

  • Look them in the eye and say, “This topic isn’t up for discussion.”
  • Call them out on their behaviour and let them know they’re overstepping their boundary.
  • End the conversation politely but firmly

How To Deal With Opinionated People – Avoid Them!

Avoiding situations where people have an exaggerated influence is also key to setting boundaries. Consider these tactics when you want to avoid what other people think:

Don’t Ask For Multiple Opinions

You can make decisions without the influence of others. Don’t feel pressure to bring everyone into the loop before making a decision.  

Frequently asking multiple people for their opinion reduces your credibility.  Unfortunately this can also lead people to believe you need their advice on everything you do.  Choose who you ask wisely.

A confident woman dressed in red

You can achieve confidence by how you stand and how you speak

Be Confident

Take whatever action you want and walk in confidence. From what you wear to what job you decide to take, your confidence about your choices will send the message that you are not looking for an opinion.

Final Thoughts

Setting boundaries with people can feel hard, but it needn’t be. When you set boundaries, you define relationships and remind people where the line is between what they think and what you think.

You don't have to subject yourself to the opinions of others. Choose what you want to do and own your decisions.

Adopt the strategies laid out, and with practice, you'll learn how to deal with opinionated people confidently.

Remember, you can always practice your statements (see the earlier examples in What To Say To Opinionated People section). in a safe environment before doing it for real by asking a trusted friend to help.  

Explain how you want to build your confidence to deal with opinionated people (or a particular one!) and ask them to role-play with you.

Alternatively, engage a coach who can help you work through the issues you have that are holding you back.  

Don’t let fear or a lack of confidence hold you back.

About the author Alison

A qualified UK based coach with 30 years of experience in personal development.

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