Sometimes robust debate with an opinionated person can be a positive encounter.

How to Handle a Friend Who Is Opinionated

by Linda Emma

If you have a friend who is opinionated, might have been on the receiving end of more than one tirade of why his way is the only right way. It may be frustrating to be continually bombarded by his know-it-all rants. On the other hand, some opinionated people are indeed knowledgeable and passionate about their beliefs. How you handle your interactions with someone who is opinionated may depend more on them than you.

Embrace them or Break Up with them

Listen to or agree with their opinions and enjoy their insight. In the presence of an intelligent, well-spoken, opinionated and passionate person, you might find yourself merely agreeing and enjoying the discourse. Great men and women of strong opinions have shared their world-views throughout history. Galileo, Susan B. Anthony, Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King, Jr. are just a few people who held strong opinions in their lifetimes and were able to make powerful impact on others and the world.

Challenge their opinions. In an effort to remove yourself from encounters with opinionated people, clinical psychiatrist Mark Goulston suggests challenging them head-on. Rather than acquiesce, ask them whether they have facts to back up their assertions. Come prepared with some statistics of your own. While you may not change the person’s opinion, your unwillingness to give in to her ideas may give her pause. If she’s unwilling to be open-minded to such a challenge, you may find she’s also unwilling to share her next opinion with you.

Be assertive about your own opinions. What makes someone who is opinionated annoying to many isn’t that they share their opinions, but that they believe everyone else should share the same view. This egocentric philosophy can be particularly disconcerting if they are so close-minded as to deem other’s opinions and values as unworthy. If you find yourself fuming at what someone is saying, don’t do so in silence. Instead, speak up and offer another viewpoint. Clinical psychologist Clay Tucker-Ladd offers ways to assert yourself without being antagonist or belligerent. He suggests “tactfully, justly and effectively expressing” yourself.

Abandon the relationship. If the opinionated person is in your life by choice, it’s up to you to choose to step away. Breaking up with a friend-- however annoying she is --can be as traumatic as leaving a lover. Therefore, before you say goodbye, consider what she does bring to your life. If the cons outweigh the pros, maybe it’s time to let her go. Psychologist and professor Irene S. Levine warns not to break up in anger. If you only infrequently encounter her, merely avoiding the times and places you see her may be enough for her to get the message. On the other hand, if you want a clear ending, use the same sort of break-up speech you might with a boyfriend. Levine suggests developing a script and practicing what you’ll say –even if the bottom-line message is goodbye.


  • Having people in your life who do not agree with you-- even if they are opinionated --may broaden your own views.


  • If the opinionated friend is also a work supervisor, you may need to bite your tongue more often than speak your mind.

About the Author

Linda Emma is a long-standing writer and editor. She is also a digital marketing professional and published author with more than 20 years experience in media and business. She works as a content manager and professional writing tutor at a private New England college. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northeastern University.

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