Whose opinion really matters and why it should? Everyone has an opinion of you, but that doesn't mean everyone's opinion should influence you in the same way. The only opinions that should really matter to you are those that have an impact on how you earn your income and those you rely on for a stable and loving relationship.
Whose Opinion Really Matters
You're surrounded by people who influence you. To understand how this happens, have a look at my article Why Other People's Opinion Influence Us So Much.
Suppose you're living on a desert island with only a seashell for company. In that case, you won't have to worry about what other people think, or the consequences of any actions you take. After all, the only person affected will be you.
But most of us are surrounded by people daily. Any actions you take will impact others. If you're to get along with other people, you need to find a way to fit in. Not caring about what other people think can apply to most of the world. You only need to consider a small number of people. At some point, you must decide whose opinion matters and why it should. However, it's for you to choose where you want to draw the line.
Whose Opinion Really Matters At Home
Speaking in general terms, your immediate family is and should be a strong influence on your decisions.
If you are to live in harmony, that is – and we all want that!
Like all relationships, the ones we have at home need to be mutually beneficial. We all have someone within the family who is happy to voice their opinion, loudly!
And when that opinion is forced on you, it can make you unhappy. But if there's a strong foundation at the root of the relationship, we tend to tolerate and accept that opinion.
The strength of the relationship relies on whether that person:
- Has your best interests at heart
- Accepts you for who you are
- Is always honest with you
And, because you love them and their opinion matters to you, you accept it.
Let's not forget - at times you have to see things from their point of view!
Or your relationship is strong, and you're able to challenge their opinion without hurting their feelings. In turn, because they accept you for who you are, they're more willing to listen and perhaps adapt to your view.
Some family members will have a greater influence over you than others, which depends on the type of your relationship.
Just because Aunt Agnes has a strong opinion doesn't mean you have to listen to her just because you're related. Suppose you only see her at large family gatherings – births, marriages and deaths. In that case, she doesn't warrant the same attention as someone you see more regularly.
The closer you feel to someone determines whose opinion matters and how valid you view their opinion.
Whose Opinion Really Matters At Work
Unless you have a massive trust fund and don't need to work, you probably need to earn a living to keep a roof over your head and hopefully eat!
Your Direct Manager
If you work for a company as an employee, then the person whose opinion matters most will be your manager. Because it's your manager, who influences how well you do at work and the rewards you gain. For example:
- opportunity for promotion
- salary increases or
- inclusion on exciting new projects
Your manager's opinion is based on their perception of your abilities and competencies.
Sadly, not all managers are active in doing performance reviews or close enough to witness your work first-hand.
When I talk about performance reviews, I'm not thinking of the annual tedious tick box exercise! I'm thinking of the productive one-to-ones that managers have with their team members to keep up to date with how things are going.
One-to-ones provides an opportunity for both parties to find clarification or support in the job role.
Reviews with your manager should happen frequently. My preference as a manager was to have one to one's with my team every other week.
These meetings provide an opportunity for you to receive feedback and understand your manager's expectations to fulfil the requirements of your job. If you want to succeed, then take the time to listen to their opinion – whether you think it's right or wrong. After all, they are the one whose opinion matters.
If you disagree with your manager's opinion about you, then challenge it. I don't mean just digging your heels in and telling them their wrong – only trouble leads from that!
The best way to communicate with your manager if you have a difference of opinion is to:
- Understand more about why they have formed that opinion – ask for detail and where possible concrete examples
- Express why you disagree in a controlled manner
- Provide evidence to support your own opinion
If your manager has an opinion of you and they're unwilling to change it. And you firmly believe it's wrong, then give serious thought to finding another job.
If you work in a large organisation, you may experience a matrix style of reporting, i.e., you report to more than one manager. Whose opinion matters? – both of them.
These relationships are hard to manage, as there can be conflicting opinions and views of your performance.
The best way to handle this is to understand each manager's expectation and adapt your style of working accordingly. Clarify with each manager precisely what they want from you, especially how you update them on the work you do for them, and the challenges you face. A degree of flexibility is required.
If there's conflict, I've found the best way to handle it is to invite both managers to a meeting to clarify how you perform your role. Explain how you're confused about what they want from you and how you would benefit from their guidance.
I've also explained it as a meeting to discuss how I could serve them to the best of my abilities. No manager would be upset if you explain that there's something in it for them!
Besides, it's in their best interest to see you do well.
If you are proactive in this way, you can avoid any unhappiness you have about your job.
The alternative is to suffer in silence. Finally, you get to a point where you either dread going into work or feel you have no other option but to find another job.
None of us work in isolation. As part of our everyday work life, we interact with a lot of other people. My philosophy has been to treat other managers with respect. You never know, they might be asked for an opinion on you. Or you could find yourself in a situation where you transfer to their department. Better to have a polite working relationship rather than have to build one from scratch!
It will depend on the level of interaction you have as to whose opinion matters.
Take care when asking opinions from other managers about your work. Many corporate organisations have a strict chain of management. Going outside of the hierarchy (or jumping levels!) is one way to really p*ss your manager off!
Your work colleagues have opinions on everything from what they think of the manager to the best way to do the job.
Whose opinion matters will vary.
Approach these opinions with care. Your work colleagues will have formed their views based on the experience they have. If you want to seek an opinion, then do it from someone you trust who will be:
Only seek opinion from those colleagues who can offer some valid comment based on proven experience. To ask for help with work they have previously successfully undertaken.
Take care when sharing your opinion with work colleagues, especially if it relates to your manager. Things do have a habit of getting out and become public knowledge.
I learned one lesson early in my career – only say something about someone if you'd be okay if they overheard you.
Very Few People's Opinion's Really Matter
Outside of your work and family, very few people should register on your radar when making decisions. Friends, community members, and social contacts can seem important, but are they really?
If your decisions don't directly impact people, they simply don't matter in the bigger scheme of things.
Whose Opinion Really Matters – Not These!
It's essential to distinguish between those whose opinions should matter and those whose opinions should not.
In this article, I've given general examples of whose opinion matters and those who don't. Ultimately, your situation is unique to you, and you'll have to determine who falls on which side of the line.
Finally, Consider This
If you find yourself compromising any of the following to please other people, you likely care too much about what they think:
- What you wear
- The foods you like
- Your politics
- What morals and values you endorse
- With whom you should spend time
- How you spend your leisure time
- And more!
Anytime you modify your behaviour to accommodate someone else's opinions, you deny yourself the happiness you deserve. You're essentially giving someone else more control over your life than they deserve.
Unfortunately we are surrounded by people who are happy to jump in and offer an opinion whether they're qualified or not!
If you struggle with opinionated people and want to know how to handle this, you'll find How To Confidently Deal With Opinionated People useful.
Don't forget, weigh the rationale of why you're considering what someone thinks before you make your choices.
Do they have an impact on how you earn your income, or the stability of your relationships?
Remember - Whose opinion matters the most?
You're the one who has to live with the consequences.
Don't give your power or your preferences to someone who isn't you!