Expertise or Opinion. Which is it this time?

Expertise or Opinion

Which is it this time?

If you ask for an opinion you’ll get one. Almost nobody can resist giving you a response.

They’re flattered that you asked and they don’t want to disappoint you. Apparently, you think they’re an expert in the subject. Or at least you think they might have an intelligent, insightful opinion.  Nobody is going to tell you you’re wrong, on either count.

They’re thinking, “Yeah, I’m sure I can come up with something useful.” They’re never thinking, “But I’m an idiot. I know nothing and have no opinion on the subject.” Have you ever heard that answer?

But it can be dangerous to ask. What if they’re adamant about a really bad idea? Now you have a problem.

It’s best to preface your request with the caveat, “I welcome your input, but please don’t take it personally, if I choose to ignore it.” Much better than having to respond with, “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.” It’s hard to recover from that conversation.

So, carefully ask the question and clearly distinguish between a formal request for expert advice and a friendly exchange of personal opinions. Confirm your expectations before you ask. It will be easier to know what to do with the response.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

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