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Erin Prysiazny

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Is it best to give your honest opinion all the time?

Do you think you should always share your true feelings with others? For example, if a friend were to say something you totally disagree with, but they're not asking your opinion, should you say something?

I'm having trouble deciding what the right thing to do is. On one hand, no one ever asked your opinion. But on the other, you will have to respond to what they're saying, so why not say what you think?

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    Jun 25 2012: No! It is best to not give your honest opinion most of the time, and to never give a dishonest opinion..
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    Jun 23 2012: This depends greatly on the situation and your relationship with the person. In particular, what is the risk of the person's taking action on the basis of his point of view (the point of view with which you don't agree?) Does he very likely know the risk already as well or better than you do? Is it likely he does not know?
    Example: If your girlfriend loves her new beach hat and you think it looks funny on her, why spoil her joy?
    Example: If your friend is about to charge bare-legged into some underbrush that you have reason to suspect may have poison oak in it, do speak up!
    Example: If there is a conspiracy of deception going on from which some people will be badly hurt, many of us would whistleblow (by putting forward the honest picture) even if it meant our jobs. Others would not.
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    Jun 23 2012: Whenever we offer judgement or opinion we are speaking from ego and chances are what we have to offer will not be very welcome or very useful.

    The trick is to be present in both listening and speaking to all other persons and indeed to events without ego, need, attachment, fantasy or desire.

    Listening is always more important than speaking.

    To be listened to, to feel heard is a wonderful gift..and an easy one to give.
  • Jun 29 2012: My experience has taught me that often giving an honest opinion tends to worsen a situation, rather than rectify something. It results in more tears being shed and unhappiness. We often do need to take a person's emotions into consideration. The ' I am not rude, just honest' attitude can be very hurtful at certain points and completely shatter them.
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    Jun 27 2012: YES, if you do so respectfully and gently. Your opinion helps to communicate the shape of the world for another person. We should all do so with a great sense of that responsibility. But remember it is yours so you do not have to share it until or unless you wish to.
  • Jun 25 2012: This begs the question, "When is a lie not a lie?" By not saying something are you lying by omission? Are all lies "bad"?

    Regardless one way of getting around the thorny question of what the "truth" is, is to present an opinion, when asked or when ethics demand, by saying "In my opinion...", or "It seems to me..." or "I feel.... That way at least you are presenting your truth as a subjective opinion rather than an objective fact.
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      Jun 27 2012: In my opinion if you knowingly state something contrary to truth you are lying. A lie is alway a lie.
      If you unknowingly state something contrary to truth you are mistaken. A mistake is not a lie.
      • Jun 27 2012: Is a lie a lie when it serves a more noble purpose? Consider the lies told by the people who hid Jews and Gypsys from the Nazis to divert them away from discovery. Sure the Nazis would consider it a lie, but morally or ethically telling the truth at that point wouldn't have been the right thing to do, and not offering an answer would have meant discovery and death for everyone on the wrong end of a gun.

        So while it may still be a lie, the context is important to consider.
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          Jun 27 2012: I agree completely that there are benign, even compassionate lies, but the definition of lying does not include a clause about context, or intent. As a born-again person I am pretty sure I would lie help an innocent, helpless person escape torment or death. I would have to confess the lie before God and ask for forgiveness and cleansing. A lie is a lie regardless of the purpose. Thank you!
  • Jun 24 2012: A wonderful topic! One comment has listed three examples, and I myself think that everything is the case, i.e. each moment you consider what to do is its own case, as in a legal case. Of course, we have principles and sayings to guide us, but that's a top-down approach. If that's what you want, I'd say always be sincere, whether you mean it or not. So to the question, :"Do I look fat in this?" one can quickly reply, "Oh, no, no, no."

    That dirty word "rhetoric" enters into the fray wherever politics is involved. And what does it sound like? "Listening to my opponent's rhetoric(lies), how he twists the truth to suit his needs, how he puts a spin on everything, well . . . I don't know how he sleeps at night. I offer you only the simple and unvarnished truth."
    In other words, it's rhetoric when the other guy does it.

    We humans have many needs and many motivations. I think they come in a mix, not in any pure form. Honesty is good, but I will work, borrow or steal, if need be, to feed my family.

    Perhaps a better illustration is the Woody Allen quote: "Is sex dirty? If it's any good, it is."
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      Jun 27 2012: There are only two answers from which to choose in answering the question, "Do I look fat in this?"
      Answer "A") NO! [ will be interpreted as a NO answer].
      Answer "B") Any other answer.[will be interpreted as a YES answer].
      Of course if you intend to express your honest opinion there is but one choice.
      Honesty is the best policy. Erin's question asks if one should volunteer one's honest opinion. I say It is not dishonest to withold one's opinion.
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    Jun 23 2012: It is easier to be open and honest with close friends; hence with such people you can express your opinion without fear.
    But with people that one is not familiar with, it is better for one to keep quiet on certain controversial issues, unless one's opinion is sought.
    However, when it pertains to issues of injustice, it is the responsibility of all good citizens to speak against it. In some cases this may lead to persecution; but keeping quiet in the face of obvious injustice could mean that it would continue, and it could soon come to haunt anyone that tolerates it.
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    Jun 23 2012: I recommend to check this talk out "A.J. Jacobs' year of living biblically"

    http://www.ted.com/talks/a_j_jacobs_year_of_living_biblically.html

    He spends a few words on the subject.(and is quite entertaining)
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    Jun 23 2012: Thats a very good practical question........
    We all talk about honesty if not all time but most of the time........if not all time but most of the time if that honesty impacts us negatively we don't tolerate ........

    Say just for example, if anyone talks honestly about even their pre-marital affairs to his/her spouse......it creates lots of trouble at the end......
    so it seems it's better be tactical about passing opinion