Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Are Your Opinions Carved In Stone?

Could this be an ancient memo from a workplace? A frustrated supervisor told me about his manager who often would state an adamant opinion or preference in a tone that implied any other view was wrong. The supervisor said, “It’s like everything he says is a royal pronouncement that is instantly carved in stone.”  The supervisor compared that to another manager who always seemed willing to reconsider his stance on a subject and to change his mind when it seemed logical and appropriate.

It’s easy to see the problems that can be caused by rigid adherence to an opinion, work preference or managerial decision. However, I can also understand how it happens.

*If a manager or supervisor changes his or her mind or backs off a decision, there are likely to be comments about being wishy-washy or lacking in decisiveness. The manager or supervisor may seem to be lacking in confidence and easily swayed.

*The people who complied with a former policy, even though they may not have liked it, often will complain about changing things to make it easier for others. If they agreed with the manager’s opinion, they may feel it is a rejection of their ideas for the manager to moderate his or her views.

*If a manager or supervisor is “talked into” backing off  a policy or procedure, some employees may think it is worth a try to argue about everything that doesn’t meet with their approval.

*Many managers and supervisors have gained in-depth knowledge and experiences that most employees may lack.  They often have a more accurate perspective of the organization and how each aspect of work fits into overall effectiveness. They may feel that their opinions and work preferences should carry more weight than those of others. 

*Most of us want to be thought of as people of conviction who stick to our principles, values and beliefs–and those are often other words for opinions.

Guidelines For Your Royal Pronouncements

  • State your preferences and opinions in those terms rather than as organizational requirements or official policy.
  • Solicit the opinions of others and work to see their perspectives.
  • Ask yourself, “Why is it important for me to stick to this statement?” If it is primarily because you feel you will lose face if you back down, think again and consider if you might gain credibility by being flexible.
  • Take your emotions and ego out of it–especially if you catch yourself mentally evaluating employees based on whether or not they accept your pronouncements and opinions wholeheartedly. Employees should not feel you will say, “Off with their heads!” just because they have opinions other than yours.
  • Base your thought processes on best practices for work and on ethical and logical rationale. If you sincerely think there is no room for modification, use your influence to help others understand your views. On the other hand, if the opinion or decision is not of cosmic significance, it may not be worth the energy to draw a line in the dirt.

What Dear Abby Said

I recall reading an article by Abigail Van Buren (“Dear Abby”) in which she commented on the times people had written to tell her that her advice to one person contradicted something she had advised another person in the same situation. Ms. Van Buren said something to the effect that she often disagreed with herself. Most of us are that way.

Acknowledge that you feel strongly about important topics or work issues, but also be clear that you want to hear the  thoughts of others. You may find that such an open approach will help you gain the influence you need to bring others around to your way of thinking. If you want your philosophies, thoughts and opinions to have long-lasting impact they need to be written on the hearts and minds of the people around you–not just carved in stone. 

November 2nd, 2009 Posted by | Life and Work | 6 comments