Expressing your opinion in writing—whether through an email, a report for work, or on a social media post—is a way to share new ideas and your unique perspective. However, asserting your opinion in a way that exudes confidence and conviction, instead of self-righteousness and force, takes skill.
Here are a few tips to remember to help you state your opinion assertively, without being rude or preachy.
Keep descriptions factual and neutral
When you’re describing a situation as the backdrop for your opinion, avoid language that points the finger at opposing people or ideas. Your audience might interpret words that blame or judge a different view as dogmatic.
Biased description: “It is my manager’s fault that the client didn’t sign the contract. My manager dragged their feet and didn’t approve the terms fast enough—it’s ridiculous!”
Neutral description: “The client didn’t sign the contract. It seems like there are areas in the approval process we can improve on next time.”
Avoid end-all statements that suggest your opinion is the only correct one. In addition to writing based on fact and neutral language, using qualifiers also lessens the forcefulness of your opinion. Using the qualifier “seems” leaves the statement open to other interpretations of the situation.
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Own your perspective
After you’ve described the situation, assert your opinion. When doing so, hold yourself accountable for your thoughts. Use words and phrases that emphasize that your opinion is based on how the information appears to you.
Another part of writing assertively—without being overly forceful or sounding preachy—is taking ownership of your thoughts without deflection. Using “I” statements to explicitly reinforce your belief is an effective approach.
Not owning your perspective: “The only reason the client opted out of the contract is that our review process is molasses. It’s an embarrassment!”
Owning your perspective: “I believe we lost this client because the contract took three weeks to review and wasn’t approved in a timely manner. In my opinion, the long turnaround may have appeared unprofessional.”
Other phrases that demonstrate your ownership include From my perspective, In my opinion, and I feel. Language like this acknowledges that the point you’re making is one of many possible interpretations.
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Check your presentation
When you’re done presenting your opinion in writing, the next step is to re-read what you’ve written for its overall tone. Ensuring that your points carry the confident, assertive tone you intend is key so your readers don’t discount your opinion as preachy, rude, or condescending.
A tool like Grammarly’s tone detector can easily identify your text’s tone. As you write, it analyzes and reveals the top three tones your text exhibits. It even evaluates text specifically for forceful tones you might not realize you’ve inserted.
With the help of the tips above, you can assert your opinion, guide your point where you want it to land, and do so in a way that invites cooperative engagement.