The Downfall of Opinions

Friday, February 08, 2008

I recently had an experience where I was invited (and hired) to help a new start-up to build a brand. During the course of trying to nail down a business name, another consultant (and friend of mine) took offense to my blunt opinions about how to come up with a good business name. As a result, he recently declared to me that he wants nothing to do with me. I was sad to hear this, and I'm still trying to figure out how business discussions and opinions got so personal to call off a friendship.

So, the downfall of opinions is that you're going to hurt someone if you give your honest opinion, whether you like it or not. It has been like this for opinions since the beginning of time. And the stronger your opinions, the more hot and cold people become towards you, I'm finding.

So is it worth it to give your honest opinion? I suppose it depends... if your wife asks you if you like a chair that she's in love with, don't crush her happiness by telling her that you don't like it (it's better to soften it by saying it's not your favorite but it makes you happy that she loves it so much). But if you're doing business and success depends on doing the best you can, you need to give your honest opinion, and be flexible to adapt to others' opinions if it make more sense. In retrospect, I wonder if I could have communicated more clearly to him that I wasn't out to "get him" in the least when I gave my opinions.

Unfortunately in this case, an opinion about business turned into something personal. My friend made up his mind that I was trying to hurt him, when, in reality, I was simply doing what the client was paying me to do... give my honest opinion.


Blogger Shrage Smilowitz said...

That's where diplomacy comes into the picture. There are people who are so skillful at disagreeing in a diplomatic way that it used to stun me. But watching them and giving thought to how they handled it, I have learned to appreciate this art. It’s a lengthy discussion but the answer to your dilemma is not “Should I give an honest opinion or should I not” because it doesn’t always have to be “you” who “gives” the opinion. the question is rather “How exactly do I make sure the right opinion gets into to that person’s mind”

6:03 PM  
Blogger Andrew Allgaier said...


You make a very good point here. Thanks for your feedback!

6:12 PM  

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