Opinions Are Like Arseholes
We've all got one
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 sometimes 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, Project FAB! 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. I’m passionate about some things but I’m not one of those controversial type guests. But I have been on several times with that type.
Not about the 'should'
I’ve always found myself being a bit cautious about being controversial and alienating people – I don’t want to go off on one and come across as it’s my way or the highway. This would be totally off brand for me because that’s not how I roll. There’s always more than one way to skin a cat. And having negative experience of damaging narrow minded, opinionated arseholes I’m always conscious of trying to be open minded.
Especially as my work is all about helping others be the best version of themselves, empowerment, 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 a few years ago regarding my wedding dress. I was undecided on my dress; I’d narrowed down the style and the type of fabric I’d like but not yet decided on the colour. I kept 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?
At the time I was at a networking meeting and my peers were asking me about how the plans were going etc. I’d bought some bold hot pink lace fabric the day before and was extremely quite excited about it. In my eyes it was extremely 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 and made no bones about letting me know how horrible she thought it was. (Rude!)
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 Facebook group. It even prompted an ‘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, from women who were supposedly being supportive in my group!
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 engagement within the group because of Facebook algorithms.
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 and clothes. It can take a lot of courage for many people to put themselves out there in a public forum and ask for advice. Most people in the group would usually only do it if they weren’t sure about something.
It would look nice if...
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 people 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 humming 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” …
As a result of ‘cardigan-gate’ I 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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