This is the BEST POST EVER! …well, I mean, it’s fine.


strong opinions signOpinions are like bellybuttons: everyone’s got one. 

I recently mentioned the AppleWatch to a friend, and before I could finish my sentence, he said, “Oh my GOD! The AppleWatch is SO dumb! Why would anyone want something so useless and so expensive?!” I was caught off guard—I was about to mention something I like about the watch, but all of a sudden I felt like I couldn’t say anything positive about it.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. And everyone has the right to express their opinion. But there are lots of ways to express your opinion, from a brief mention to a forceful tirade. So which should you do, and when?

The first thing to do is consider whether it makes sense to share you thought or hold your thought. Some opinions are better left unsaid if all they’ll do is hurt someone.

So if you decide to share your opinion, should you be enthusiastic and passionate? Or calm and measured?

Only Enthusiastic

If you feel very strongly about your opinion, you may decide to share it enthusiastically. You state it with passion, because it is a very strong belief. It’s like a tidal wave, crashing to shore with incredible force!

enthusiasticThere are times when it makes sense to share your opinion with this much fervor. With friends who agree with you about how awesome the Minions movie was, be enthusiastic!

But if you are too enthusiastic, or too enthusiastic at the wrong time, you may have become “overzealous”—spending an extreme level of energy expressing a belief. You could anger or bother the people around you.

Only Measured

So if being too enthusiastic is a problem, what’s the alternative? Being measured. This is like calm waves on the ocean, moving slowly and evenly.

measuredBeing measured is when you share your opinion in a calm and reserved way. When talking about a controversial topic, or with someone you don’t know well, it is often helpful not to share too enthusiastically.

But as with all things, being too measured can be a problem, too. People may think that you don’t care about your opinion. Being too measured could be mistaken for indifference. In those cases, other people in a group may make decisions without you, because they assume you don’t care. For example, don’t let your team at work decide everyone needs to come in an hour early if you have a very long commute and can’t make it!

Balancing Being Enthusiastic and Measured

Better than one extreme or the other, it’s best to find a balance between those two extremes:

scale enthusiastic measured

There are a lot of choices in between too enthusiastic and too measured. When having discussions in a group, consider just how enthusiastic or how measured to be when sharing your opinion.

Remember that sharing opinions has an impact on other people: it can make them uncomfortable, angry, or disappointed. OR it can make them interested, curious, inspired, or constructively challenged. And other people’s reactions all come back to you!

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The most important lesson for most things: balance.


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I recently got an email from a company trying to convince me to pay for their email reminder service. The first line was:

The most important lesson you can learn when starting a sales career: persistence.

To be fair, I don’t have anything like a sales career, so I don’t claim to be an expert on such things. But I do think that advice is misguided. If you focus exclusively on persistence, you run the risk of being overbearing. I imagine there are people who would be more likely to buy something if that salesperson just backed off!

Instead of focusing on persistence, I believe the better advice is to always consider striking a balance. In this case, it’s a matter of finding a balance between, on the one hand:


and on the other hand:


This is a fairer and likely to be more effective to help you get what you want, and make other people around you happy.

Persistence – or patience – to the extreme



You can’t enter every interaction with the mindset that you will persist at all costs. What about checking in on a professor who’s agreed to write you a letter of recommendation: if you send follow-up emails day after day asking when it’s going to be done, the professor might get so annoyed that she’ll change her mind and not write the letter. So much for persistence! All that did was pester her.



But by contrast, you can’t only be patient and trusting. When arguing with Time Warner Cable to lower your ridiculously expensive monthly bill, keep pushing! Ask to speak to a supervisor, then another supervisor if necessary until your expectations are met. There are indeed times when persisting is necessary.

It really comes down to striking a balance between persistence and patience. You figure out how much to “lean” in one way or the other in different situations by considering the context.

Balance in all things

Any time someone uses the phrase “the most important lesson is,” it should be following with “a balance between…” Just about all advice—even good advice—can be misinterpreted or misapplied and taken to the extreme. Instead of thinking, “In my life, I always need to x” I believe more people will be helped by thinking, “In my life, I need to find the balance between x and y.” There’s a lot of space in between, and that’s where people end up the most successful and satisfied.

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For an explanation of the Balance Challenge framework, see Balance Breakdown, always accessible on the top navigation bar.