How I Learned Not To Fear My Opinion
We all love validation.
Think about it: when you get complimented, doesn’t it feel good? And when someone agrees with your opinion, it also feels good as they validate our perspective – “You are right. I appreciate and accept your view.”
Because it feels so good to get validated, other people’s opinions suddenly have more value than our own. Often, especially in our professional lives, we hide in the trenches rather than take risks to share our true thoughts; afraid of what others may think. Afraid of losing business and relationships. Afraid of appearing as 'wrong.'
Priding myself on being a ‘people pleaser,’ I used to side-step around offending someone with my thoughts. I would bite my tongue in conversations, choosing to keep my opinions captive, spiralling. Creating an internal battle.
Which isn’t healthy. When I was working in London, I learnt this the hard way. I remember a situation when a colleague claimed half of ‘my’ deal. Rather than argue, I just let her have it.
My manager was annoyed.
“Do you really think she did the work for that?” he pried. “You did so much work towards that - why didn’t you fight for it?”
He was trying to irk me; to spark a fire to ignite a flame. The disappointment that followed knowing I hadn’t honoured my values was not worth the ease of my silence.
So, I started to practice. Using my voice, sharing my opinion and negotiating initially didn’t come easy. Perhaps my tone would come across too harsh, as though I didn’t value the other person’s ideas. Observing the feedback I got, listening, acknowledging and learning to convey my thoughts in a concise manner took PRACTICE.
Months later, after a somewhat heated debate in a meeting room over a deal, my manager and I returned to my desk.
He looked at me proudly and smiled. “The old Briar wouldn’t have done that,” he said.
Remember, your opinion matters and you shouldn’t fear having one! Here is how to speak up to thrive.
First, listen to the other person.
And thank them so they know you acknowledge and respect their thoughts. Then, question, Why do they have that opinion? How did they come to their conclusion? In my previous article about negotiation, I discuss the importance of understanding the other person’s values and motives first so then you can frame your opinion in a way that interests them.
Understand that facts and opinions are different.
Surprise! - Just because you have an opinion doesn't automatically mean it's right... It can also change over time. I often feel people who are less credible are the ones who shout the loudest.
Be strategic about when you speak out.
Don't be seen as a loose cannon who has something to say about EVERYTHING - you don't always know best and neither do I! Back your opinion up with facts and your personal experience. Keep it concise. Pause before you speak to gather your thoughts - no one likes a waffler.
You will earn respect from people and now, when you do open your mouth, people will be engaged and listen.
Fine tune your ideas to be even better.
Sharing shapes them, gives them clarity and context. And it’s good to have someone play devil’s advocate and pick them to pieces - that's how your ideas grow.
Recently, you may have seen on my Instagram (@deals_in_high_heels) that I met with one of my friends, Saad Gharzeddine, for a motorbike ride around Dubai followed by an 'entrepreneurial campfire talk' with his friends to discuss our new business ideas.
It felt good to open up about some strategic decisions I’d been thinking of in regards to my personal branding agency, Briar Prestidge, and Deals in High Heels. I heard some very valid feedback which I've taken onboard and now I'll be pushing my businesses to be even better.
Build deeper relationships.
As I'm now older, a business owner and entrepreneur, I don’t have time for people who have flakey opinions. Or flakey people, for that matter! Interesting conversations stem from sharing your ideas, dreams and aspirations. CHALLENGE ME. I need to grow, I need to be better.
You may be shy to start sharing, but remember people will not dislike you for thinking something different. It's quite the opposite, actually! Our uniqueness is what makes it exciting to be human and understanding how we 'tick' builds a deeper connection.
Earn respect in your personal and professional worlds.
Unfortunately, the less you say the more chance people will choose your identity for you. By walking around the office with your head down and by not chiming in for any discussion, you risk appearing WEAK. By speaking up, you not only show your interest but you demonstrate your expertise, creativity and showcase your unique personality.
Remember, some people never develop a voice because they never practice using it. Speak up to thrive. What's your experience with sharing your opinion? Does it come easy for you? Let me know - I love to hear from you. You can message me on Facebook (Deals in High Heels) or Instagram (@deals_in_high_heels).
I have to SHARE an exciting announcement: I had so much fun motorbiking recently, so in collaboration with the Hawks I'm taking our Deals in High Heels community! Join our ride and opinion sharing night on the 3rd of April - sign up here!
Until next time,
Briar Prestidge xx