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I wish I had a refillable coffee cup!

Objectively speaking, you need to get up and make one.

I came by this description of the objective, and the objectivity principle.

Principles > Objectivity principle


Standing back and looking at things objectively decreases emotion and increases logic.

Here’s how it works

Have you ever been in a conversation where the other person said something like ‘Let’s look at this in another way? If you stand back and look at the problem objectively, it seems less important? Taking an objective stance has a calming effect, helping people to see things as they really are or from a different viewpoint.

Objectivity works in two ways. First, it helps to remove emotion, allowing people to think more rationally. The other use of objectivity is that it provides neutral territory that allows an equitable, meaning ‘fair and impartial’ discussion to take place.

When we say ‘be objective‘ we typically mean a number of things:

  • Be unemotional, not getting agitated or distressed in any way.
  • See things as they really are, not from a personally biased viewpoint. Be neutral, understanding both points of view.
  • An objective viewpoint is thus more realistic, fairer, and far more likely to result in an agreeable resolution to human differences.

Objectivity is the opposite of subjectivity. A person who has a subjective viewpoint sees things only from their own position, complete with all biases, internal mental models, and so on.

The problem with a subjective point of view is that it’s invariably different from everyone else’s subjective viewpoint.

Removal of emotion
Think of a time when you were upset or angry. Relive the experience, seeing things through your own eyes again. Notice how you start to re-experience the emotions. Now imagine floating out of your body and looking down on the scene. Notice now how the emotions are less.

Standing back and literally seeing the situation from an external viewpoint has the very useful property of removing emotion. This is a very helpful tool for calming people down and assisting them to think more rationally.

Neutral territory
A big attraction of an objective viewpoint is that it is a neutral territory on which both people can meet. In particular, it plays to our need for fairness.

The neutrality of an objective view lets us both look from the same position, and if we cannot do this then at least we can get someone else to do it. This is the role played mediators, judges, and other intermediaries who stand in third place.

The third position
In a conversation or relationship, there are three positions. The first position is me, my subjective self. The second position is you, the other person, and your subjective viewpoint. In argument and discussion, we tend to see only these two positions. But there is a third, and it comes in very nicely when writing.

The third position is the objective viewpoint, as a neutral observer watching the discussion from outside. Anyone watching the conversation is, of course, in the third position. Either or both of the participants can also find this third position.

Today I learned that being objective is a principle. The objectivity of a principle is to ???? I’ll come back to that question another time. Update 30th May 2020 The objectivity of a principle is to be helpful and this is actually very helpful.


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