Expressing Your Views As Opinion Rather Than Fact
People can be overly sensitive these days, and often take innocent expressions of personal opinion as fact, and as such, an attack on their own beliefs. We shouldn’t censor ourselves or worry constantly about what every person is going to think or feel, but as writers it is our responsibility to try to craft our words carefully and be as sensitive as we can be while still engaging in honest expression.
I find that part of the problem lies in people writing as if their opinions are fact. “Such and such is this way.” “This is how things are.” Some statements make it sound less like you’re expressing your own beliefs and more like you’re telling the world what’s right or wrong or true for everyone. That can be a slippery slope to tread on.
I find that you can alleviate some misunderstandings by using certain phrases. “I believe”, “In my opinion”, “to my knowledge”, “I think”, “I feel”, “It’s my belief” and similar statements can help make it clear to the reader that you’re expressing your beliefs or opinions rather than insinuating that what you’re writing is a fact.
Even if you’re very firm in your beliefs, and for you what you’re saying is absolute truth, you have to understand that truth is never absolute and that other people have different thoughts and beliefs. By using a few key phrases in your writing you can sound more honest, less militant or more compassionate. Perhaps all of those things.
It may seem like self-censoring, but I prefer to think of it as taking personal responsibility. Most people don’t consciously notice, but they do notice on a certain level. You can often tell by the responses to a piece how people are interpreting it. I doubt my readers are consciously aware that I make these choices in my writing, but the shift from negative and even attacking responses to understanding and respectful responses tells me that I’m succeeding in my efforts.
I also believe that using this kind of thought process and sensitivity in my writing affects who I am as a person, in a very positive way. I write every single day, so what and how I write makes its way into how I speak and interact with people online and off. By taking this effort I’m not only making a better experience for my readers, I’m making myself a better person.