Plato stated: “Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.” How many times have these three simple words gotten you in a lot of trouble: “In my opinion”? However, we all have them; opinions, that is, but we continue to get ourselves into difficulties if we express them. Therefore, should we continue to give our opinion or not? That all depends on how you frame the opinion.
- Is your opinion based on facts and principles which come from reliable sources and not just another person’s opinion or perspective? If that is the case, then what you have is a basis for a discussion. Two people may have the same information, but have completely different opinions based on the same information. It is with debate, if both parties are open to debating, that a consensus can be reached and both parties are happy with the conclusion.
- Is your opinion solely based on personal experience? If it’s personal, your experience may not be the same as the person next to you. For example, two people go to a movie and one hates it and the other loves it. Who is right? This is a subjective opinion and even though you may discuss why you feel your position is the correct one, there is no basis of fact or principle that you can bring in to support your position. However, you can still have a discussion and/or debate on the difference and come to a conclusion or just decide to agree to disagree.
- Is your opinion simply a statement not based on any fact, principle or personal experience? It is these opinions that, and rightly so, have been maligned. This in actuality should be named as a random thought instead of an opinion for the reasons mentioned; no facts, nor principles and completely devoid of personal experience. You usually know that it is this kind of opinion given, because when you ask for a reason for it all you get is: “Because” or “Just is” and my personal favorite: “I said so.” as well as others in the same vain.
The big question then becomes, which of the above do you tend to do with your clients or prospects? When you are giving them an opinion, is it something that you just thought of, or is there some basis in fact and/or experience that allows you to make that statement? More importantly, are you willing to listen and be open to possibly changing your opinion?
Business is based on facts and principles, but most importantly, knowledge. The greatest knowledge comes from experience; which in the majority of cases starts with a premise, better known as an opinion, tested to see if it meets the burden of fact which can then be tested, discussed and implemented if it qualifies into the principles and facts of business. However, if it cannot, it can only be dismissed, ignored or rightly so, regarded as an ‘ignorant’ statement. Be very careful whenever sharing an opinion and make sure that you move the needle to the right side of the Plato quote.
Well, ‘in my opinion.’