Opinions Are Like A***holes
Opinions are like a***holes – we’ve all got one.
Do you have a friend who has something to say about anything and everything? And who likes to share it with anyone and everyone.
They like the sound of their own voice.
I get invited onto local TV and radio occasionally to give my opinions on topics, sometimes it’s stuff in the news, other times it’s local interest stuff, sometimes they ask me to talk about what I do and the reasons and benefits behind certain things such as the 21 Day Style Challenge, Glum to Glam workshops, the charity Swish clothes swaps that I organise etc.
For some of the light-hearted topics it’s easy to provide an opinion and chat easily about stuff. Other times when it’s a bit heavier I’m aware that I might sit on the fence slightly, hedging my bets, being diplomatic one might say. The other guest I was on with last week asked me if I was one of those controversial type guests. I’m not. But I have been on several times with that type.
I find myself being a bit cautious about being controversial and alienating people – you never know who might be watching.
Perhaps it’s a potential client who likes the cut of my jib and is thinking they might like to find out more about me and potentially visit my website – I don’t want to go off on one and come across as it’s my way or highway. This would be totally off brand for me. It’s important that I walk my walk and talk my talk at all times.
My business is all about helping others be the best version of themselves, empowerment and mentoring and coaching. It’s not about the “should” – you should wear this or you should wear that, that is not my way. When I work with clients it’s about finding out what is going to be right for them – no cookie cutter approach or rigid rules to stick to. I provide guidelines as the expert but at the end of the day it has to be what is right for the client.
There have been several times personally where I have had other people’s opinions foisted on me whether I asked for them or not and I don’t like it. I’m not saying I’ve never done it myself – I know I have. Sometimes, even if my mouth aint saying it I know my face is.
I’m not even sure if people are aware of how they come across sometimes. Or if they are, they don’t care – who knows?
It’s happened recently regarding my wedding dress. I’m currently in the process of planning our wedding which happens in 15 weeks. I’m undecided yet on my dress, I have narrowed down the style and the type of fabric I’d like but not yet decided on the colour. I keep swaying backwards and forwards. Shall I wear a bold, bright colour that is typically me or shall I go traditional and wear white/ivory or similar?
Last week I was in the company of business associates who were asking me about how the plans were going etc. I’d bought some bold coloured fabric the day before and was quite excited about it. In my eyes it’s beautiful and very ‘me’. I decide to show them a photo on my phone…bearing in mind that this could very possibly end up as my dress of choice. One of them was quite emphatic in her distaste.
Now, as it is, I don’t actually give a shit if people don’t like my style ‘cos I’m quite confident in my decisions around colour and design but imagine if I wasn’t…This happened another time too in my Style Sisterhood Facebook group. It even prompted my ‘opinions are like arseholes’ video.
I was undecided one day about which colour cardigan to wear with a particular top, it was my own fault in a way I suppose as I didn’t word my post as specifically as I could’ve done. I just posted 3 photos in the group, all with the same top and scarf but different coloured cardis. They all matched the top; the purpose of the post was to generate a bit of engagement in the group more than anything as that is good in Facebook terms. Incidentally I was wearing the scarf to cover up my décolletage as I was going to a meeting where there would be men and didn’t want to be flashing my ample cleavage in a professional environment.
Anyway, I didn’t say “which COLOUR cardi?” I just said “Which cardi?” …I got all kinds of comments: which was most flattering, that one suited me more than the other, best shape for me etc, that scarf is not right and so on. It became a full-on style critique.
So many people voicing their opinions and providing ‘helpful’ unsolicited advice. So, for me this was water off a duck’s back – I cared not one jot about which was deemed more flattering than the other – I liked all of them. It was just the colour I was asking about – like I say, to garner engament within the group.
However, imagine this – it’s a big group of over 1000 women from all walks of life who are interested in some way in colour clothes and confidence. It can take a lot of courage for many people to put themselves out there in a public forum and ask for advice. You would usually only do it if you weren’t sure about something.
So, if someone is asking for opinions on the dress they might wear for a party, showing two options, but haven’t mentioned their shoes and you start firing off with well intentioned comments like ‘it would look better with such and such style shoes’ how might that make them feel?
She might be delighted with those shoes, they could’ve taken her ages to find, she has bunions and been after a pair of pretty looking party shoes for ages. Her husband has already put his two pennorth in and sewn seeds of doubt about them…
Before you know it, she’s totally deflated because however nice her dress is you’ve just told it looks crap with those shoes. Or at least, that’s what she’s heard in her head.
She’s not the most confident of folk in the first place, she’d absolutely love to work with me but doesn’t have the self-worth to justify spending the money. It took a lot of umming and arring before she pressed the button to post in the community and now, she wishes she hadn’t bothered. Her self esteem is not great and she’s dreading the bloody party anyway, she’d rather not go…
And yes, it might sound dramatic but if you’ve read my sticks and stones blog you’ll see how comments stick. In fact, I don’t remember all the lovely compliments I got in my cardigan post, only the ones that were suggesting I could “look better if” …
I now have a set of rules in my group as a result of those comments that day. There’s always something to be learnt from every situation. Opinions are only ever opinions and kindness are always required. I ask members to choose their words carefully when giving feedback and opinions. Words stick, don’t be the mean girl who gives a fellow member a complex.
And at the end of the day the ONLY opinion that should actually matter to you is your own.
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