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What You Think and What You Know

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My Parents Loved to Argue

Not with each other.Not about who takes out the trash, or why the toothpaste cap wasn’t replaced. In fact I never remember them raising their voices to each other. For the short time I had them both, I always saw them in perfect harmony. But they loved to argue none the less.

In fact, my whole family loved heated conversation, – Aunts and Uncles, Grandparents, Cousins, all had points of view about politics or current events, or the ethical reasons behind a business decision. And these were smart people. You didn’t win an argument in their world with rhetoric. If you wanted to win an argument, you needed to make precise points, supported by hard information, or demonstrated empirically. But if you could do that, you had the ultimate reward. The other person would acknowledge your superior arguments by acceding to you position and agreeing you were right. And not because they wanted to end the argument, but because they saw your point- and they had the ability to learn that another’s point of view might be the right one.

I didn’t realize until I was older that everyone wasn’t like that. You need to be self-confident to be able to admit that you might be wrong. If you’re not confident, then every time someone else is right you are somehow diminished. In fact, the ability to converse and debate and accept the opposing point of view if it is made well is so rare, that it has become worthy of note in my world. When I first served on the Interpretations and Procedures Sub-Committee of NAR’s Professional Standards Committee, I left the meeting and called my wife and said.”I just had the best time ever! I sat in a room with almost 20 well informed, articulate people, with strong points of view, who were willing to be talked off their position if you could make your point well enough!”

Some Things Aren’t Convincing

Many people have a problem when they write. They give an opinion and frame it as a fact. That’s just not accurate. Saying something with conviction does not convert it from opinion to fact, its just a loud opinion. And as I pointed out earlier, an opinion might not be the most valid opinion, its just yours.

Speaking in generalities does not mean that your statement will apply in every market or in every situation. Nor does your experience create valid generalities. It speaks only to your experience.

Repeating something said to you by someone you respect or trust doesn’t make a fact of an opinion. Even the people you respect can have misinformation. And your confidence in the other person doesn;t mean that they had all of the facts – only that they believed that they had all the facts.

I don’t mind when someone shares their experience, as long as that experience is qualified as their experience , not some universal truth. Until you have run a business, its hard to have a valid opinion about what the owner should or should not do to provide better (fill in the blank) or avoid (fill in the blank). Its not hard to have an opinion , its hard to have one that is valid. And even the amount of validity can be questioned based upon the experience of the person providing the experience.

And Some Things Are

When Lani Anglin-Rosales write about Social Media , I’m interested. When Russel Shaw writes about listings , I’m interested.When Rich Jacobson writes about Communities on-Line or Teresa Boardman writes about photography and blogging, I’m interested. Because they have substantial experience in those fields and when they speak about those things they have hard facts or numbers to back up their statements.

Its too easy, in this arena, to take a whack at some targets. National Brands, Large Companies, Different Business Models, Trade organizations, or people that don’t use technology as we do. But like too many of the easy things in life, there isn’t as much reward in those activities as there is in sharing ideas that work, technology that we can use, and activities that we have found rewarding.

Your Voice IS Important

When you write, a post,a comment, or even a tweet on twitter, you are taking a position in front of a larger audience. You have a responsibility to that audience and to each other.

You need to tell them what you know is fact. Not what you think is fact.

You need to tell them when you are sharing experience and when you are sharing opinion without experience.

You should recognize that your words may have far reaching and unintended consequences, and think about what those things may be. There are more people impacted by each statement then you may think.

Write as if the whole world was watching and listening to your words – including your family. And then make sure that those you value would be proud of the position you took and the words you used to support it.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Ken Brand

    July 31, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Bill, what I know is, “you’re an insightful guy.” What I think is we all can easily fall into the trap of sloppy thinking and even lazier communication. As you’ve shared, it takes extra conscious effort to think things through, consider the consequences, repercussions and perceptions of our message, then share it.

    How many times have I been boomerang bitten by puking out facts that only had technicolor chunks of actual-fact and a whole lot of liquid opinion-fact. Too many.

    Great post, nice reminder, everyone wins when you think first and speak/communicate concisely.

    Thanks.

  2. Vance Shutes

    July 31, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Bill,

    >”When Lani Anglin-Rosales write about Social Media , I’m interested. When Russel Shaw writes about listings , I’m interested.When Rich Jacobson writes about Communities on-Line or Teresa Boardman writes about photography and blogging, I’m interested.”

    There’s something to say for expertise in the field, as these outstanding AG writers certainly are. That’s why you (and I) are interested. It’s important that your voice comes through, expressing your expertise. What’s important, here, is that you have to know your expertise (first) in order to express it through your voice – via your blog, or your photos, or videos. To me, it’s fabulous to see that the little “Flip” videocam has alread sold over a million products. That tells me that even those who aren’t confident in expressing their “voice” through words, they can express is through their own video work.

    My point? First, to know yourself so well that you know your own expertise. Second, to have confidence in that expertise – after all, that’s what our clients sense when they hire us. Finally, to act on that confidence by choosing the optimal way to express that voice – by words, photos, or video – or some other format yet to be developed!

  3. Vicki Moore

    July 31, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    I love to argue – I mean debate. I think it’s crucial to having a functioning brain. In having an opinion, people often think of their position as fact and frequently have a hard time differentiating. I heard a lot of argument at Inman about what is fact regarding SEO and what isn’t.

    I think the funniest thing that happened to me in this realm is that someone walked in when I was having a heated conversation with a friend. The guy who walked in said, “Are you guys arguing?” In unison we said: Yeah, but not with each other.

    Your reminder is a good one. When we loudly state our opinions, remember: people are listening. Another important reminder is not to make it personal and not to take it personally when there’s a passionate opinion.

  4. Jonathan Dalton

    July 31, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    I try not to take any of this personally but as everyone learned last week, I’m a delicate flower.

    Where problems usually arise is when people confuse their opinion with fact. Or frame their opinion in such a manner that they feel no opposition is possible. Seen that happen far too often.

  5. Bill Lublin

    July 31, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    @Ken & @ Vance – Thanks so much for your responses. and for getting the point 😉

    @ Vicki – When you speak everyone listens ( I was going to make an EF Hutton reference but O didn;t know if they were still in business or if anyone listens to them anymore

    @Jonathan You are a desert flower that blooms with magnificent color (please see Ken’s comment about Technicolor puke) – part of the arguing thing is ethnic – you understand 😉

  6. Vicki Moore

    August 1, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Thanks Bill. I needed that.

    Yes, Jonathan, I agree – you are a fragile flower.

  7. Paula Henry

    August 1, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Ahhhh……Bill, stated so eloquently! While the web has provided transparency and knowledge to the consumer and professional, it has also made many experts whose opinions would have been better kept inside their own head. Especially when they state it as fact!

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Opinion Editorials

Shady salary transparency is running rampant: What to look out for

(EDITORIAL) Employees currently have the upper hand in the market. Employers, you must be upfront about salary and approach it correctly.

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Man holding money in the dark representing false salary transparency.

It’s the wild wild west out there when it comes to job applications. Job descriptions often misrepresent remote work opportunities. Applicants have a difficult time telling job scams from real jobs. Job applicants get ghosted by employers, even after a long application process. Following the Great Resignation, many employers are scrambling for workers. Employees have the upper hand in the hiring process, and they’re no longer settling for interviews with employers that aren’t transparent, especially about salary.

Don’t be this employer

User ninetytwoturtles shared a post on Reddit in r/recruitinghell in which the employer listed the salary as $0 to $1,000,000 per year. Go through many listings on most job boards and you’ll find the same kind of tactics – no salary listed or too large of a wide range. In some places, it’s required to post salary information. In 2021, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act went into effect in Colorado. Colorado employers must list salary and benefits to give new hires more information about fair pay. Listing a broad salary range skirts the issue. It’s unfair to applicants, and in today’s climate, employers are going to get called out on it. Your brand will take a hit.

Don’t obfuscate wage information

Every employer likes to think that their employees work because they enjoy the job, but let’s face it, money is the biggest motivator. During the interview process, many a job has been lost over salary negotiations. Bringing up wages too early in the application process can be bad for a job applicant. On the other hand, avoiding the question can lead to disappointment when a job is offered, not to mention wasted time. In the past, employers held all the cards. Currently, it’s a worker’s market. If you want productive, quality workers, your business needs to be honest and transparent about wages.

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Opinion Editorials

3 reasons to motivate yourself to declutter your workspace (and mind)

(EDITORIAL) Making time to declutter saves time and money – all while reducing stress. Need a little boost to start? We all need motivation sometimes.

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Clean work desk representing the need to declutter.

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few years. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to identify and minimize ‘invisible’ work in your organization

(EDITORIAL) Often meaningless, invisible tasks get passed down to interns and women. These go without appreciation or promotion. How can we change that?

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Women in a meeting around table, inclusion as a part of stopping gender discrimination representing invisible work.

Invisible work, non-promotable tasks, and “volunteer opportunities” (more often volun-told), are an unfortunate reality in the workforce. There are three things every employer should do in relation to these tasks: minimize them, acknowledge them, and distribute them equitably.

Unfortunately, the reality is pretty far from this ideal. Some estimates state up to 75% or more of these time-sucking, minimally career beneficial activities are typically foisted on women in the workplace and are a leading driver behind burnout in female employees. The sinister thing about this is most people are completely blind to these factors; it’s referred to as invisible work for a reason.

Research from Harvard Business Review* found that 44% more requests are presented to women as compared to men for “non-promotable” or volunteer tasks at work. Non-promotable tasks are activities such as planning holiday events, coordinating workplace social activities, and other ‘office housework’ style activities that benefit the office but typically don’t provide career returns on the time invested. The work of the ‘office mom’ often goes unacknowledged or, if she’s lucky, maybe garners some brief lip service. Don’t be that boss that gives someone a 50hr workload task for a 2-second dose of “oh yeah thanks for doing a bajillion hours of work on this thing I will never acknowledge again and won’t help your career.”  Yes, that’s a thing. Don’t do it. If you do it, don’t be surprised when you have more vacancies than staff. You brought that on yourself.

There is a lot of top-tier talent out there in the market right now. To be competitive, consider implementing some culture renovations so you can have a more equitable, and therefore more attractive, work culture to retain your top talent.

What we want to do:

  1. Identify and minimize invisible work in your organization
  2. Acknowledge the work that can’t be avoided. Get rid of the blind part.
  3. Distribute the work equitably.

Here is a simple example:

Step 1: Set up a way for staff to anonymously bring things to your attention. Perhaps a comment box. Encourage staff to bring unsung heroes in the office to your attention. Things they wish their peers or they themselves received acknowledgment for.

Step 2: Read them and actually take them seriously. Block out some time on your calendar and give it your full attention.

For the sake of demonstration, let’s say someone leaves a note about how Caroline always tidies up the breakroom at the end of the day and cleans the coffee pot with supplies Caroline brings from home. Now that we have identified a task, we are going to acknowledge it, minimize it, and consider the distribution of labor.

Step 3: Thank Caroline at the team meeting for scrubbing yesterday’s burnt coffee out of the bottom of the pot every day. Don’t gloss over it. Make the acknowledgment mean something. Buy her some chips out of the vending machine or something. The smallest gestures can have the biggest impact when coupled with actual change.

Step 4: Remind your staff to clean up after themselves. Caroline isn’t their mom. If you have to, enforce it.

Step 5: Put it in the office budget to provide adequate cleaning supplies for the break room and review your custodial needs. This isn’t part of Caroline’s job description and she could be putting that energy towards something else. Find the why of the situation and address it.

You might be rolling your eyes at me by now, but the toll of this unpaid invisible work has real costs.  According to the 2021 Women in the Workplace Report* the ladies are carrying the team, but getting little to none of the credit. Burnout is real and ringing in at an all-time high across every sector of the economy. To be short, women are sick and tired of getting the raw end of the deal, and after 2 years of pandemic life bringing it into ultra-sharp focus, are doing something about it. In the report, 40% of ladies were considering jumping ship. Data indicates that a lot of them not only manned the lifeboats but landed more lucrative positions than they left. Now is the time to score and then retain top talent. However, it is up to you to make sure you are offering an environment worth working in.

*Note: the studies cited here do not differentiate non-cis-identifying persons. It is usually worse for individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community.

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