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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: 05 June 2015
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    2003-2015
    Conjecture Corporation
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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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Sporkasia
Post 3

I find it interesting that this article mentions the capital punishment argument. That was one of the first subjects we had to take sides on in debate class when I was in high school.

We were asked where we stood on the issue of capital punishment, and then our teacher made us debate in favor of the opposite view. This was easy for me because I could see the benefits and negative aspects of both arguments. Some people had a really tough time trying to convince other people of something they were not in favor of in reality.

Drentel
Post 2

I see the need for objectivity, and my wife is always telling me that I need to be more objective and less judgmental. Sometimes I wish I were more open minded and more willing to listen to other people's views, but that is not the way I was raised to be, and changing at this late point in my life is not easy.

The successes I have had in this life are largely because when I make up my mind I don't let anyone deter me from what I think is right. When I was planning to quit the good paying job I had to start my first business, family members and friends told me not to do it

. They told me to play it safe, and they explained why I should do what they were telling me.

To this day, I am glad I didn't listen to them. I guess the truth is that I am afraid to be objective because I think objectivity may lead to me doubting the things I believe in and also doubting myself.

Feryll
Post 1

I need to make a copy of this article and then give it to my girlfriend's brother so he can learn to be more objective. Whenever we get together for family gatherings he sits and waits for the perfect opportunity to give his opinions on politics, race relations, and pretty much any other subject that might happen to come up. Talking with him might would be interesting if he actually listened to anything you said instead of simply waiting for you to finish talking so he can say what he has to say.

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