What to say when they ask your opinion
For some, it is the moment to shine while for others it is the most frightening.
Imagine you are at a staff meeting. Your boss just finished giving a long drawn out presentation about his future vision for the team. After a long pause, he turns and looks right at you as the follow statement pierces the silence, “what do you think of our new vision?”
It can be said that your opinions will make or break your career, no matter how much hard work you put into your job. It is more than just what opinions you have, but how and when you communicate them.
Here are some tips on how to voice your opinion at work, and knowing when you should or shouldn’t let it be known. Let’s take a look in the context of few different scenarios:
- When you have no clue: Whether it is because you dozed off during your boss’ lecture (like the scenario above) or because it is not one of your areas of expertise, when you don’t have a clue the first thing to do is admit it. Your peers will hate if you completely BS an answer and there is a good chance that your boss will see right through it. But don’t just leave it at a confession, offer an action plan to find the answer. For example, say “that is a great question and I need a little time to research the topic. Give me 3 days and I will have an in depth analysis for you.” Once you make this commitment it is paramount that you follow-up and followthrough. Provide your boss with status updates and ask for clarification if you aren’t sure.
- When you hate the way things are: There are times when things don’t go our way. When given the opportunity to voice our opinion on a part of work that we don’t like it is important to be mindful of what we say. Don’t let your jaded side get the best of you. Remember that someone made things the way they are, and those people are pretty territorial about the projects they have worked on and the programs they implemented. While they are likely less than perfect executions of flawed plans, the people involved have some pride in the work they did. Be mindful of their egos and don’t openly slam something you hate. When you are asked your opinion, instead offer your suggestions to improve things and more importantly find little ways to change things (step-by-step without stepping on toes).
- When you are passionate about how you feel: Just because you feel a certain way and you want to share it with the world does not mean everything feels the same way. Odds are someone out in your team won’t like it (often because it was not their idea). It is important to do two things when you are passionate about the opinion you are sharing. (1) Get buy-in. Make sure to share the WIIFM with everyone (what’s in it for me) and get everyone to understand how they benefit from your opinion or idea. (2) Speak only for yourself. I have seen on an almost daily basis someone will complain about how “everyone” feels the way the way they do when in reality it is just them (or them and one other person). Take ownership of your opinion and the leave the floor open for others to agree or disagree instead of assuming where they stand for them.
Remember that your opinions are good things (that show your uniqueness and value to your organization) but should be shared in the right way and at the right time. Make sure to read your emotions and the situation, taking the three points above in mind and it is likely that you will respond in the right way when your opinion is asked.
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