The Difference Between Preference and Conviction

Donna White

Donna White

By Donna White, Principal Consultant and Owner of Legacy Consulting Services and Legacy Billing Solutions in Montgomery, Alabama.

Today we see more conflict arise over convictions as well as preferences. But what is the difference and how can that influence how you communicate with someone? Let’s explore!


Preference is something you want to do or something you strongly believe in but are willing to change your mind or point of view under certain circumstances. You wouldn’t be willing to die for it! In some instances, our preferences may change or adapt based on the social situations you are in. They’re more fluid.


Conviction is something you want to do or believe in so strongly that you are not willing to change your mind or point of view, regardless of the circumstances or social situation. You may be willing to die for your convictions. Where principles are concerned, you are like a rock – unmovable. However, choose your battles wisely! We see more and more on social media people getting into arguments over their convictions and it devolves into name calling or personal attacks. Because you are so passionate about it, you feel you must make the other side change their point of view.

Potential Danger Zones and How to Resolve Them

There are several pitfalls you can run into when discussing either preferences or convictions. The first is anger. The hardest thing to remember is that anger is a by-product of fear or hurt. Responding calmly can defuse the situation.

Second is talking too much. You may be so motivated to make your point that you’re thinking ahead to your response and not truly listening to others and what they are trying to say. Sometimes the other person just wants to be heard and doesn’t need a response.

The third danger zone is boundaries. Oftentimes you may overcommit your self and that limits your abilities with your work, your family, or any other organization you may be involved in. The ability to be honest and say, “No,” is a strength that is hard to develop when your personality is to please people. But sharing your feelings helps others know where you stand.

The last is skepticism. Be careful to resist the urge to believe that the worst-case scenario will always happen. A pessimistic attitude leads nowhere, FAST. Instead, look for ways to solve problems and keep a positive attitude.

Thinking about how the other person is thinking may help diffuse a situation. Rather than immediately reacting to a perceived attack, stop and think, “What made them react that way?” Then take steps to think about the danger zones and how you can diffuse the situation rather than exacerbate the issue. The more we can learn to effectively communicate with each other, the stronger we can collectively become.

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