By anyone, I mean customers and clients. The inspiration for this post came months ago when someone here at the Fix, I think it was Ann, wrote a post. I don't recall the specific post... but what I do remember is that the post generated a few comments about phrases that drive people nuts. Two of those phrases were "I think" and "I believe."
The motivation to write this post today came from BL whose recent article, What Makes a Blog Popular?, listed some qualities that contribute to blog popularity. One of them was is not afraid to have a strong point of view.
I agree. A strong opinion will create more readers. But do we jeopardize our consulting practice or our business's brand when we come across as strongly opinionated?
Here is my disclaimer: I am not afraid to tell folks what I think. After all, I grew up in New Hampshire where being straight-forward and honest to a fault is part of the state's credo. On the other hand, my corporate and entrepreneurial experiences tell me to proceed with caution when it comes to sharing opinions. And I work hard not to be a strongly opionated writer or consultant but instead one who shares experiences, knowledge and my assessment of what works and what doesn't.
Here's what I ask you to think about.
Why do people hire us as consultants or as employees? Do they care what we think? Or do they care what we know? Do they want to work with someone who is assertive? Or do they want to work with someone who is more of a team player? If they had their choice between working with someone who quietly gets their work done, meets all their wants and needs, and is easy and fun to work with, or someone who is strongly opinionated, exceeds their wants and needs, and is not so easy or fun to work with, who would most leaders choose?
Obviously, I have set up a black and white test, leaving out the gray areas. And we all know that grays predominate the work place and our lives. But here is my point. What is the primary driver behind hiring decisions?
I think all things otherwise equal, leaders are more likely to want to work with someone who is nice, who is fun, who is a quick learner and who meets their wants and needs. And I think they more often than not choose that person--consultant or hire--over someone who is committed, opinionated, hard-working and often exceeds their wants and needs.
Why? The former makes the work environment livable; the latter creates more grief than most need in their lives. Okay. That's what I think. (Sorry Ann, I had to say it again.) Let me have your best shot.
In parting, I believe (OK, I managed to get both hated phrases in) we cannot underestimate the power of "nice."
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