If someone asks you for your opinion, give it

Whether your colleague is asking you for an opinion on a joint decision, or a friend is just curious about what kind of music you prefer, it’s common for people to intentionally withhold their opinions and preferences in order to appear composed and cooperative. However, the authors’ research suggests that this approach can seriously backfire: Through a series of studies involving more than 7,000 participants in a variety of interpersonal situations, the authors found that a failure to balance yourself actually made you less likable Appear and ultimately damage both personal and professional relationships. To counteract this common misconception, the authors suggest that managers should encourage and exemplify healthy self-expression in their teams, both to improve their own relationships with colleagues in their organization and to normalize the expression of personal preferences for employees who are otherwise tend to remain silent.

When someone asks for your opinion, do you give it quickly? Or do you instead opt for a relaxed “It’s your call,” a noncommittal “I’m fine,” or an eager “Whatever works best for you”?

Many of us deliberately withhold our likes to appear easygoing and lovable. Especially in the context of the workplace, we can assume that being less stubborn can help make a good impression on our colleagues, co-workers, or boss. But through three large-scale research projects that examined a wide range of interpersonal situations, totaling more than 7,000 participants, we found that a lack of consideration can actually make you seem less likeable and hurt your relationships.

Easygoing is not likeable

In our first research project, we looked at how people reacted when they asked a friend or acquaintance which restaurant, cinema or museum they would most like to go to. Regardless of the context, participants almost always told us that they wanted their companion to choose a particular option—and when their companion chose not to (which they often did to appear casual), participants found their counterparts less likeable, and they were less interested in initiating future excursions with them.

Why is this? You may think that holding back your preferences makes you more likable, but in fact, someone asking for your opinion is generally looking for help in making a decision. Our participants consistently reported that they found it harder to make a decision when their friend refused to express an opinion, and this uncomfortable decision-making experience often damaged their impression of their friend.

No opinion implies a negative opinion

Another reason why withholding a preference can backfire is that when someone claims they don’t care, it can appear as if someone actually has an opinion, but hides it to avoid conflict. In our second research project, we found that when someone says they have no preference, decision makers often assume that they are only saying so because they have the opposite preference. In this case, the decision-maker is more likely to choose the option they don’t want (because they assume that their counterpart really prefers it) and is ultimately less satisfied with the interaction.

Silence can be dehumanizing

Of course, staying silent when a friend or colleague asks for your opinion can be counterproductive. But what about situations where nobody is relying on your feedback to make a decision?

In our third research project, we examined what happens when people are simply asked to express a general preference, rather than weighing a joint decision. We had participants read about a fictional person who was either indifferent or shared an opinion when asked about their favorite food or type of music, and then we asked participants to share their impressions of that person. Across the board, people who shared an opinion—positive or negative—appeared more with an individual, distinct identity, while those who withheld their opinion appeared robotic and less human. Furthermore, in one study, we found that this negative effect can extend even to the evaluation of a person’s work: participants were shown identical images of a room, but when told that the interior designer who designed it did not When B. expressed a preference for his favorite food or music, they rated the design of the room less favorably than when told it was designed by someone who was willing to share their personal preferences.

Effective managers encourage—and model—healthy self-expression

Driven by a desire to be helpful, minimize conflict, and contribute to a collaborative workplace, employees and managers alike are reluctant to share their personal preferences or offer opinions on shared decisions. But our research shows how this approach can actually damage relationships, making people seem less effective and less likeable.

To address these challenges, managers should take steps to encourage healthy self-development within their teams. In one study, we found that people are twice as likely to share their preferences when the decision-maker explicitly says they don’t want to make the choice themselves—in fact, as a manager, just communicate clearly that you want to hear everyone’s opinion before making one Making a decision can greatly increase the chances that people will open up.

Managers can also set up special events or digital channels for employees to share their hobbies, likes, and opinions on various topics, and they can conduct team building exercises to eliminate common misunderstandings and help people feel more comfortable about others to share their preferences. In some cases, it may be useful to conduct polls before or after meetings to proactively solicit input from employees who may be nervous about speaking out at the moment, and for client-facing roles, managers may also consider explicitly encouraging employees to voice their opinions to voice with customers as this can increase perceptions of sympathy and help them form stronger connections.

Above all, however, managers and executives themselves must practice open communication. Especially for senior executives who have trouble staying in touch with on-site employees, openly sharing their preferences can help combat the perception that they are distant or lack humanity. Rather than alienating employees, our research suggests that expressing an opinion—even if it’s an opinion—can help leaders appear more human, competent, and personable. This will both improve their own relationships with colleagues in their organizations and normalize the expression of personal preferences for employees who might otherwise tend to remain silent.

So the next time someone asks you for your opinion, don’t hold back. Our research shows that expressing your preferences respectfully and honestly both helps the person seeking your feedback and makes you seem more likeable. Whether it’s a friend asking you where you’d like to eat, a customer curious about what kind of music you like, or a colleague asking for your opinion on a decision at work, the data shows that sharing your opinion is almost always a win. to win.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *