What Do You Think?
The Truth About Opinions
We all receive a lot of requests, emails and phone calls, asking what we think. About products, about issues—and right now, about candidates. Some asking really want to know our opinions. Businesses pay focus groups a fortune to find out what’s on our minds. Whether or not we like a product or packaging, even the name for a product.
Some want to investigate potential price points—to see what we, the public, would be willing to pay for a product or service. Others are trying to get a firm grasp on their market or where a potential product or service will fit into an existing market or if with it, the seller will be able to successfully carve its own niche into for a product in a new market.
Others who call the question—what do you think?—have absolutely no interest in what we think. They want something else from us. Like what? Here are a few examples:
1. They want to influence or nudge us into thinking what they want us to think. By “listening” briefly to what we think, they then structure their responses to change our opinion to what they want it to be, or, if they happen to agree with us, to reinforce our opinion in the hope that someone else who comes along won’t be able to nudge our now fortified opinion.
2. They want us to contribute and are willing to let us voice our opinion to get to the part they’re interested in—contributions from us. Often you’ll get a poll or survey where you’re asked what you think. You click a few options and then get a thank you and a request to contribute. If you skip the survey and just contribute, that’s fine with many of them, too. They don’t want your opinion, they want your money.
3. They want affirmation of their own opinion. This happens often with friends and colleagues, where they’ll guide you to a conclusion, based on the details they relate (and omit), to lead you to a conclusion that agrees with or substantiates their own opinion. Then, they often relate to a third party that you agreed with them, lending added weight to their conclusion to convince the third party to agree with both of you.
It’s risky to ask another’s opinion if you don’t actually want their opinion. Quite often what you hoped for isn’t what you get, and then you’re upset because the other person didn’t agree with you.
Of course, if you respect that person and truly want their opinion, then you welcome his or her divergent views. Often, others see things we don’t. Their perspective is different and offers new insights. That can be extremely beneficial to you in drawing sound conclusions before taking actions that carry consequences.
Seeking the counsel of others you trust can be a wonderful experience. But you must know why you’re seeking. What do you really want? And something else that should be considered is what happens if you ask for an opinion and disagree with the advice and elect not to take it? Will that generate conflict between you and the other person(s)? Will they resent sharing their time and expertise and you rejecting (or ignoring) their advice?
Some will share what they can and leave the decisions to you. After all, they are your decisions to make and you will be responsible for them. But others—the I told you so—types will not forget that you didn’t do what they suggested. And they’ll remind you of it often.
Make sure you’re okay with the projected outcome, and know why you’re asking before you do it. And if you’re on the receiving end and are asked what you think, try to determine why the person wants to know before you respond.
If s/he is looking for confirmation or affirmation, what’s the cost of you not honestly being able to supply it? Are you willing to pay it, or would you rather opt out of responding?
There is no right or wrong answer on this. Only your answer. If asked, I will answer, and I will call it as I see it. What the person does with my suggestions or recommendations is totally up to them. Those who are apt to ask what I think are aware of that. Perhaps those in your circle are, too.
My point is, others ask us what we think for a myriad of reasons. Often it has nothing to do with what we think but everything to do with what they think. Understanding the difference gives us insights that assist us in better communicating and in not unintentionally offending others.
Bottom line, be aware. If asked, before you answer, make sure that the person asking really wants to know what you think.
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© 2016, Vicki Hinze. Vicki Hinze is the award-winning bestselling author of nearly thirty novels in a variety of genres including, suspense, mystery, thriller, and romantic or faith-affirming thrillers. Her latest releases are: The Marked Star and In Case of Emergency: What You Need to Know When I Can’t Tell You (nonfiction). She holds a MFA in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Theocentric Business and Ethics. Hinze’s website: www.vickihinze.com. Facebook. Books. Twitter. Contact. KNOW IT FIRST! Subscribe to Vicki’s Monthly Newsletter!