Taking the pledge: My opinion doesn’t always need expression.

Social media has potentially given everyone a voice. Anyone with an opinion has an avenue to express it and an audience to receive it.

But should we express an opinion just because we hold it?

I’m taking the pledge:

I will hold my opinion unless:

  • I’m invited

  • It will add value and can change things

  • I’m willing to own it publicly and accept the consequences

In Australia, we are a couple of months into the longest election campaign we’ve ever had. As a result politicians are gaining as much mileage out of every opportunity as they can.  During my afternoon commute, the broadcaster of choice, ABC702’s Richard Glover, is regularly receiving SMS messages, tweets, emails and facebook comments making accusations of bias, for and against each political player he may interview. He regularly keeps the listener informed of the current wave of opinion that floods onto his screen, tossing one way or the other, dependent on the bias of the hearer.

Perhaps the true measure of media election bias should be comparing these comments? If as many people complain that Richard is biased one way or the other, then he’s fair!

Opinions held don’t necessarily need voice.

It seems that now there is the opportunity for our opinion to be heard, almost at every level of society, that we somehow think that (a) we have a right to express it – no matter what the topic, the context or our expertise and (b) it has merit – just because I think it I should say it.

I’ve often found myself in a group email situation, discussing a significant matter, of which I hold views. More often than not I will write a ‘reply all’, then stop, think, reread and delete. Weighing in won’t necessarily add value.

So it’s a matter of self regulation.

1. Am I invited? Specifically or broadly. If you read this post, follow me on Twitter, then that’s my opportunity, but not necessarily my right to express my opinion. Feel free to unsubscribe or unfollow.

2. Will it make a difference to the outcome? I’ve made a long-held decision to be positive and helpful in my communication. If I can add value I will make the effort. But will endeavour to express my ideas constructively.

3. Am I prepared to publicly own my views and carry out any consequences? I don’t always publish what I write. I must have courage of convictions.

There will always be injustices, unfairness and ‘wrongs’ that will occur in the world. But I refuse to tie myself in knots for things I cannot directly impact, instead, to direct my attention to those things where I can make a difference.

I adopt the Covey idea that asks, In which circle does it belong?

  • Circle of concern (These are things that concerns me, but I can’t actually do anything about, yet)

  • Circle of influence (These are things over which I have influence)

Sometimes it’s helpful to release the pressure valve when something is frustratingly in my circle of concern. I might say to my husband or a trusted friend – “just listen”, or I will write my thoughts down, just to be able to order them and express them, then not do anything about it.

Like a muscle, holding and purposefully expressing my opinion takes time and training to build strength. I’m not perfect, but I have taken the pledge.

I will hold my opinion unless:

  • I’m invited:

  • It will add value and can change things

  • I’m willing to own it publicly and accept the consequences

@anneknock

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