Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you ever liked something that somebody else did not?

Alternatively what if a friend likes something that you don’t, and they feel very strongly about it?

How do you convey this in English without hurting their feelings?

Today we’re talking about what to do and what to say if you know somebody who likes something very much that you do not.

There are certain things to say and a way to say it so that you don’t upset them or come across too aggressively—and that’s what we’re focusing on today.

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Understanding Some Background

We just did an episode about things being overrated, and we got into a bit of a discussion about how to use this with social tact.

We talked about the idea of something being overrated and how that may vary amongst people.

What some people feel is overrated may not necessarily be a shared opinion, and this is a whole different approach here.

We spoke about an interesting situation that sometimes comes up.

What if you think something was overrated, but the other person in the conversation doesn’t– in fact, they happen to LOVE the thing you think is overrated?

What do you do?

How do you handle this type of situation?

You want to be honest about your opinions but in the right way.

It’s all about finding the right balance of expressing your opinion, but yet not offending the other person.

This is about what you say, how you say it, and ensuring that you still convey your point of view without making anyone feel bad for a difference of opinion.

Finding That Fine Balance

So you want to let the other person know somehow that what they love is not necessarily a shared thing.

Though they may love this very thing, you are not a fan and that’s okay.

You don’t have to give into somebody else’s opinion of this, but you do want to find a way to express that you aren’t a fan of it.

However, you want to do this in a way that doesn’t feel like you are making that person feel silly about their taste and preferences.

This is where the right words and the right way of expressing it is so important.

Here’s what NOT to do and that matters just as much as the other alternative.

Lindsay: “Oh my GOSH Michelle. I LOVED that new Jennifer Aniston movie.”

Michelle: “What!!?!? Oh come ON Lindsay, it was TERRIBLE.”

What was wrong with that?

The intonation that Michelle used was intense, as she clearly had a strong negative opinion.

It came across as though she was questioning Lindsay’s judgement, which is never going to be received well.

You don’t want to come across in this way because you will definitely risk offending this person.

You will see this immediately in their negative reaction if you went too far or talked too harshly. Is there ever a time when it’s okay to do this?

You could perhaps do this with a very close friend, relative, or somebody with whom you have a very open relationship.

However, you would definitely want to avoid this kind of response with someone you are trying to build a connection with.

The only exception to that is if you have a very sarcastic type of relationship and therefore this would come across okay.

Why do you need to be mindful of all of this and use this only with those that you are closes with?

  • You can come off as rude: Though you may just be expressing your opinion, if you are too brutally honest then it may come off as rude. It may appear as though you are coming down on them and therefore you are rude and aggressive.
  • It can make the person feel self conscious: They may start to question why they like this thing and therefore second guess themselves. They may suddenly feel very self aware and self conscious about something that they like if you are questioning it so strongly.
  • It can make them question if you have things in common: This could potentially hurt your overall relationship with them as they begin to wonder what you have in common. Though you may be on the same page about some things, if you come across too aggressively, then this may launch into further problems.

Good Strategies For Dealing With A Difference Of Opinion

What this comes down to is a difference of opinion, and that’s a healthy and normal part of life.

Though you may not necessarily understand why this person loves something so much that you don’t, it’s okay to feel differently.

You just want to find the best way of dealing with this so as not to upset them and to keep the peace, though you aren’t on the same page about this subject.

So what are good ways to express you don’t like something in a nicer way, but without lying?

1. Be specific: Try to say specifically what you didn’t like so that you put it out there in a factual way. It’s perfectly okay to be specific like this, and it lets the other person understand where you are coming from.

Lindsay: “That book was AMAZING!”

Michelle: “Yeah there were good parts. Did you think some of the writing was a little cheesy?”

2. Find one nice thing to say: It can even be a bit vague, but it’s still finding a positive in a situation that may otherwise struggle with. If you present something positive then it makes them feel validated in a way.

Michelle: “This is the best cake I’ve ever had.”

Lindsay: “Yeah, it’s definitely chocolatey!”

Lindsay: “This new album is her best. Don’t you think?”

Michelle: “Yeah I love the third song on the album. I still love her older stuff, though.”

3. Consider the feedback sandwich: These two episodes can give you some helpful tips for staying on top of things and giving you a great way to offer your own personal feedback. Check them out for insight on how to do this in a productive way that keeps things positive.

Business English and How To Give Feedback In American Culture

Frankly Speaking, This Is The Best Way To Be Honest In English

Michelle: “So what do you think of this amazing new show? Hilarious, right?”

Lindsay: “Yeah I think overall it’s really funny. There are parts that are a little dry for my taste-some of the characters are kind of boring, but I’m curious to see where they take the show for sure.”

Lindsay: “This hotel is AMAZING! I think it’s the best one I’ve ever stayed at.”

Michelle: “Yeah, I love the lobby! It’s so pretty. The service could be better, I think, but there are some nice amenities.”

4. Use softening language: This is to say something in a nicer way with the right type of language such as kind of, sort of, pretty , not bad, a bit, could be better, alright, or so so. It says that you aren’t a fan but you can appreciate what they like.

Lindsay: “So did you finally try the soup at the restaurant I was telling you about?!”

Michelle: “Yeahhh I did!”

Lindsay: “And?”

Michelle: “Umm, yeah it was pretty good, not bad. I thought it was sort of salty, but it was alright!”

Michelle: “So, you finished the book! What’d ya think? Incredible, right?”

Lindsay: “Yeah! Pretty good! I liked it, but some parts could have been better I think. Overall, it was good. Thanks for the suggestion!”


We gave you strategies of ways you can be honest in these awkward conversations.

Not everyone is going to like the same things in the same way, and that’s okay.

It’s a matter of knowing how to address this which matters the most, for it will make a big difference in how it is received.

We can do a follow up with more phrases another time, but we wanted to start with strategies overall.

When you find yourself in this situation, don’t panic—try one of these and see how it works for you!

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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