“In My Opinion” is Redundant

As a verbal tick, yes, but also as way of presenting yourself. Don’t worry, I’m guilty of it too.

We know it’s your opinion. You’re the one talking. Even if you stole the opinion from someone else, it’s yours now since it’s coming out of your mouth/finger tips.

The real question is: what’s next?

Do you expect us to fall to our knees and thank you for your opinion, rare as it is for Your Eminence to descend from on high and present your thoughts to mortals like us?

Or are you hoping to distance yourself from your opinion? “This is my opinion. It’s not really me. Here, look, I’ll set it on the table and you can do whatever you want with it. Just don’t look at me.”

We understand intuitively that opinions are not especially valuable. Facts can crowd them out. Convictions kill them on sight. And so the opinion-giving posture is a way to minimize risk. You’ll still be heard (because not to be heard is death) but your words won’t have much consequence.

Instead of giving your opinion, develop a discipline of describing to others what you sense and feel. The beauty of this is that you can never actually be wrong. You do sense what you sense. You do feel what you feel. State these things and stand behind them.

The trick is that you have to be ready to sense and feel new things based on what happens next. Holding yourself hostage to what you sensed and felt yesterday is just as deadly a trap as letting others decide for you.

It takes courage to build up this discipline. The human tribal instinct rewards us for staying in opinion limbo. After all, the tribe is the midpoint between a herd and an individual. The tribe doesn’t want your absolute conformity. It wants enough of your conformity to differentiate you from the next tribe.

The way to stand out among the tribe, then, is not to be the most like your tribe. The way to stand out is to take what you alone sense and feel and use it to form a conviction, not an opinion. You create a conviction by layering many of your own feelings and many of your own sensations on top of each other, creating an alloy of experience that nobody else can create.

When you communicate your convictions, you have a chance of challenging the tribe in the way it needs to be challenged. Challenge the tribe once or twice, and they’ll attack you for disrupting their stability. Challenge the tribe consistently, hundreds or even thousands of times, and they’ll thank you for making them stronger.

We don’t need your opinion. We need much, much more of you than that.