Do your opinions matter? From time to time, this may be a key question we may think about, as it affects our perceived value from within as well as in our outward interactions.
We all want our voice to be heard. We want it to matter in our relationships.
At times, though, we wonder if our opinions really matter.
We offer them at home to our spouse and kids, yet we may often feel the only one that really understands is the person speaking them.
We offer them at our workplaces, yet we get a smile of acknowledgement with no real action or reaction.
We offer them in our churches and community organizations, yet emails go unanswered or another pat on our back comes our way as we are shown the door of indifference and inaction.
The answer to this question carries a responsibility on our part, along with the leaders and participants in the places where we are active.
The question also serves up several other ones that we need to answer first.
Are we relevant? The answer to this question centers on whether our opinions and information are based on current, thoughtful sources. It includes more than just re-stating what is already in print. If this is it, then our opinions are just repetition of what others have already stated. We need to spend the time to think through and assess what we have read. Our opinions need to be identified as part of our character and our thought process. Our viewpoint is then expressed as a part of who we are as a person and leader.
Are we with the right people? If our opinions are being brushed off or talked over, then we need to really evaluate whether or not we are hanging out with the right crowds. This is challenging, as it relates to our family members, co-workers and managers, and community leaders. Although it may be a tough choice to make, it may be time to move on and find others who value what we have to say and the value that we can add.
Are we living an “in gear” life? Another way to ask this is: Are we living on the sidelines or in life’s arena? Opinions given by people who have made the tough decisions and have lived fully engaged carry more validity. People listen closer to those who have a life story in which much can be learned. Living a life of digging in, and through, life’s challenges and taking the roads less taken deliver a more willing ear.
Do we really listen to understand? In our own interaction with others, we need to ensure we are delivering the same attention that we expect in return. We need to turn off the devices, eliminate the distractions, and really listen to what someone is trying to tell us. It is about giving what we expect to receive. It is about exemplifying the behaviors we want others to exhibit, too.
Do we express honest agreement or disagreement to opinions given? It is give-and-take. It is civil, meaningful discussions. In order to raise the level of our understanding and enhance our learning, we need to challenge each other in a way that all individuals involved get better. Stale thinking leads to stale opinions. Stale analysis leads to stale organizations. Better thinking and raised analysis leads to advancing societies, families, and organizations. For opinions to matter, we need to have meaningful conversations.
The simple question of “do our opinions matter?” turns into five more challenging questions to answer. Each question answered leads us closer to clarity on the first one.
As individuals, we need to honestly assess where we stand.
As family members, we need to ensure we are establishing and encouraging the right environment.
As leaders, we need to foster a culture where opinions can be shared, valued, and challenged in order to advance missions and objectives.
Do our opinions matter?
Yes, our voice matters. We need to raise our standards in all areas to elevate our voice to be heard clearly and profoundly.
What suggestions or questions would you add to ensure your opinions matter?