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How Can I be More Objective?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2014
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Very few people go through their entire lives without taking a single position on an issue or forming a strong opinion on any subject. Indeed, for many of us life itself is full of polarizing decisions: conservative or liberal, religious or non-religious, rich or poor, neat or messy, Type A or Type B, and so on. It can be quite challenging to be more objective when objectivity is required, such as evaluating a business proposal or determining the guilt or innocence of a defendant.

One way to be more objective is to use role-playing exercises. Imagine you are going to face yourself in a debate on a very polarizing issue, such as the use of capital punishment. You may have already formed a strong subjective opinion on the issue, and as far as you are concerned the issue has been decided. In order to remain objective, however, you may want to do the same research an opponent would do before the debate. By arguing constructively against your own ingrained opinion on a sensitive topic, you will often find enough reason to be more objective in the future. Fully understanding the opposing opinions and basic arguments should help you feel less entrenched in cliched or flawed counter-arguments.

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Another way to be more objective is to become an active listener. All too often a person will find himself or herself "squaring off" with someone equally passionate about an opposing position. Instead of waiting for silence in order to interject a stock answer, it's generally better to listen more actively to what the other person is actually saying. You may even have to acknowledge that he or she has made some good points. This active listening exercise can help you retain objectivity by seeing the discussion as an exchange of ideas and opinions, not a series of canned responses.

Sometimes the desire to be more objective is really a desire to be less judgmental of those who hold opposing viewpoints. Most people do have strong opinions on certain issues which affect their lives, and it is not your job or responsibility to effect fundamental changes in their belief structures. What you can do is seek out neutral territory on which both sides can agree and work from there. By defining the essential problem or concern without spin or bias, you can be more objective about finding workable solutions. Even a controversial subjects such as abortion rights or gun control can be discussed objectively. as long as both sides agree the real issues go beyond the controversial practices themselves.

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