Written by Travis R. Rogers, Director of Software Engineering for Axispoint
This is part three of a 3-part series about the art of the opinion. Have an Opinion – Part 1 provides some definition and justification for this method and Have an Opinion – Part 2 provides a basic set of rules for having an opinion. Opiners, those that have and willingly express opinions, are a special breed and require understanding of their nature in order to expose optimal value so this article discusses some of those traits.
I encourage you to read all of Part 1 and Part 2 but in case you are just interested in the psyche of opiners, I have copied some particularly relevant caveats and provisos into this article.
Truth: There are six different English definitions of Opinion provided by the online Oxford Dictionary. From those, the definition this article refers to is,
“A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.”
That’s right, we accept and even expect that people will present opinions “…not necessarily based on fact or knowledge” because having an opinion is a process as well as a destination.
Truth: Opinions, in our world, include ideas, thoughts, points of view and etc. They will all be treated the same.
Truth: To those that know me, some of the rules or guidelines presented in this series will smell strongly of hypocrisy. Admittedly, I struggle to follow the rules but that doesn’t make the rules less valid, it just provides additional (or at least some) evidence that I am human.
What to Expect from Opiners
1. Lots of Opinions.
Obvious…but here goes. If you tell people their voice is important, encourage them to use it and hire people because they have an opinion you will be surrounded by opinions about every possible aspect of existence. Oddly enough, prior to Clinton’s famous comment “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” I had multiple opportunities to engage in a debate about the definition of “is”.
Most of the time I enjoy a plethora of opinions but not everyone does, even incessant opiners. On the plus side, there is rarely a time when you go to lunch and everyone says, “I don’t care whatever you want.”
2. Lots of Creativity.
I was looking for synonyms to Opinionated and was a little surprised by the large amount of seemingly negative and close-minded words like biased, inflexible and intransigent. If it hasn’t been made clear in prior articles, in the Axispoint culture having an opinion is different than these negative connotations. A group of people that have an opinion and are able to follow the basic rules of having an opinion (see Part 2) are ultimately very creative and open to other’s creativity.
3. Lots of Questions.
Well, it is one of the rules and also a common trait of technologists.
4. Lots of Truth.
See rule #3 and #4 above. If you ask a question, someone will answer it honestly. Years of experience have led me to adopt a personal guideline, “Don’t ask a question you don’t want to really hear the answer to!” Several years ago I was on vacation and had my hair buzzed because it was hot. When I returned to work I asked someone what they thought of my hair. Their answer, “It’s brutal.” It was the truth…not tactfully put…but the truth. Would I have felt better if they had said something like, “It’s not my favorite for the shape of your face.” Or, “I preferred your hair the way it was before you left for vacation.” Maybe, at least for a few minutes until I deciphered the code.
5. Lots of Confidence.
Some might say, “Lot’s of Arrogance.” Having an opinion is not arrogant in and of itself, but arrogance is a byproduct of not properly assessing the value of an opinion (see rule #1). Confidence is good and is expected when people have their opinions poked, prodded and beaten by equally confident and competent people.
6. Lots of Fun.
Good people interacting to create great solutions is just fun. With the right people and attitude, the environment builds respect and camaraderie and provides opportunities for people to learn, contribute and flourish in ways not available elsewhere. On top of that, who doesn’t love a good debate?