Giving your opinion can be a frightening thing. This is especially true when your opinion is likely to be in contrast with the majority. If you are expressing disagreement with a superior, things can be downright terrifying. In spite of all of this, there are many benefits to voicing your opinion. So much so, that you are doing yourself a disservice by keeping quiet.
Learning to speak up and telling people what you think is empowering. It is extremely difficult to do at first, however once you become used to doing it, you will see the value in it, and you will begin doing it more often.
Are there drawbacks to voicing your opinion? Of course there are. Some people simply cannot handle dissent. You’ll also need to use tact when you voice your opinion, along with good judgment. There are certainly opinions that don’t need to be voiced at all. Having said that, here are 7 reasons that you should never hold back on your thoughtful, and carefully formed opinions:
1. You Might Actually Initiate Change
One of the most common reasons that people do not voice their opinions is because they do not feel as if their words carry the weight required to get changes made. Why shout into the wind if it does not do you or anybody else any good? This logic is self-defeating and negative. The only way to guarantee that your opinion is disregarded and that no action is taken based on what you have to say is to keep quiet.
By speaking out, you may just see action taken on your words. You may also educate a superior about a valid concern that they had not considered. For example, if you are in a position to know that a new data retention policy at work could potentially cause a security breach, and you tell nobody, you have no way of knowing whether or not anybody is willing to change that policy. If you do say something, there is a chance that the policy might be changed and that you will learn that the people who implemented the change never realized there was any potential danger.
2. You Will Learn Whether Or Not Your Opinion Holds Water
You have an opinion on a situation, but you aren’t sure that you have all of the knowledge required to make a judgment. Do you keep silent, or do you say something? If you keep quiet, you can take the time later to educate yourself more, but what if that is too late? What if you are in a meeting and an important decision is about to be made, and there is no option to wait until later? The answer is obvious. Of course you say something.
For one thing, once you get your opinion out there, it is available for scrutiny. What better way is there for you to find out the merits of your opinion, and gain more knowledge on a particular topic than that? As long as your opinion is presented as an opinion, and not haughtily blurted out as fact, chances are it will be well received and fairly examined.
3. It Is Not As Risky As You Think
When it comes to voicing their opinions, people tent to adopt worst case scenario thinking. We call it the set-up-to-fail syndrome. They imagine being ridiculed, dressed down, ostracized, disciplined, or even fired for expressing an opinion that they believe might contradict what management or the majority thinks. The likelihood of any of these worst case scenarios coming to fruition is extraordinarily unlikely.
If any do come to fruition, that is one way to learn that you are dealing with leadership that relies on some pretty draconian measures and is only interested in hearing from yes men. That’s not an easy outcome to deal with, but it is a lesson that is better learned sooner than later. In reality, voicing your opinion is likely to receive either positive or neutral responses.
4. You Can Help Others Find Their Voice
Voicing your opinion is a bit like being the first person to serve yourself at a banquet. Everybody awkwardly sits and waits to eat because they don’t want to be the first person to fix a plate. Why is that? Maybe it is fear of appearing to be gluttonous.
In many situations, there are several people who have an opinion, but they don’t want to be the first to speak up. This is mostly because they don’t want to voice their opinion and find out that nobody agrees with them, or worse, they don’t want to voice their opinion and receive awkward silence in response. If you are the brave soul who is willing to be the first to give your opinion, you will make others feel safe giving theirs. You may or may not find that these people agree with you, but you will know that you helped them get over their fears at least one time.
5. You Will Create Or Renew A Conversation
Nothing bad happens when ideas are exchanged and issues are explored at a deeper level. These things do not happen if people don’t give their opinions. What happens instead is that the basics of a problem are laid out, and the easiest, most obvious, or in many cases, the boss’ solution is applied. If you step up and voice an opinion that something…
- Isn’t right
- Needs to be explored further
- Is going to cause unintended harm
- Hasn’t been explored enough
- Should be replaced with a better alternative
You may not get your way, but you will keep the dialogue going. Not only will you learn more during this process, other people will learn more as well.
There is an added bonus to this. If you lay your cards on the table, especially with a concern over a policy, you have given yourself a layer of protection should things go badly. This is not to say that you should feel as if you have license to be smug, but it is nice to be able to say, that you voiced a concern.
6. You Will Give Off An Air Of Confidence
People who exude confidence hold a certain amount of power. People tend to listen to confident people, and they tend to go along with their opinions. In addition to this, confident people are the ones who are sought out when it comes to choosing leaders. This is, at least in part, due to the fact that giving your opinion is seen as an act of courage. When others stay silent, and you voice your opinion, people admire the bravery in that. Developing a reputation as a confident person will only help you to achieve your life goals and benefit you in the future.
7. You Will Be Happy You Took Some Kind Of Action
The truth is, there can be negative consequences to voicing your opinion. These consequences can be severe at times. However, there are also consequences to holding back your opinion, and these consequences can also be severe. There is one difference. Your conscience will not be bothered if you speak your mind. It will be bothered if you do not. This is especially true if something bad happens as the result of your keeping silent.
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