â€śMen get attacked for their opinions, and women get attacked because they have opinions,â€ť says Vox producer and correspondent Liz Plank. Suffice it to say: Expressing opinions is not easy. Studies show women writers receive more negative feedback, regardless of the topic. It is no wonder only 20% of op-eds at major news outlets are written by women.
While expressing opinions can be challenging, it is part of being a leader. The opinions of leaders shape business decisions and the news. To be part of the discussion, speak up in the workplace and in the community. Demonstrate your knowledge and value. Your ideas are important and can be, as journalist Katherine Lanpher says, â€śpowerful solutions to big problems.â€ť
You can share your opinion without being â€śopinionated,â€ť which people perceive as being arrogant. Speak up, and speak up in a way that will allow you to be heard and be respected. Here are seven ways women (and men) can express theirÂ opinion and not be “opinionated”:
1. Ground your thoughts in facts.
Opinions are strengthened with facts because you ground yourself in truth. Combine your thoughts with data. Consider saying, â€śI suggest we pursue the second option becauseâ€¦â€ť and then proceed to mention a case study. When you ground your opinion in facts, your argument is more persuasive. When you are informed, people are more willing to listen.
2. Use concrete words.
The more concrete you are with your thoughts, the more clear you will be and the more people will listen to you and understand you. Try not to use absolute words like â€śalwaysâ€ť or â€śnever.â€ť You donâ€™t want to suggest you know the absolute truth, and you are more persuasive when you are specific.
3.Â Speak firmly, not necessarily loudly.
If you have an opinion, say it firmly. Own your thought. That ownership helps you to exude confidence and lets your words speak for themselves. You can make an impact without having to make a loud noise.
4. Ask questions, and listen to others.
Bring other people in. Do not give a speech. Have a discussion. Ask, â€śWhat are your thoughts?â€ť
Be flexible. Maybe the opinion you started with is changed by what you heard. Create a dialogue that demonstrates your interest in other peopleâ€™s ideas and allows them to know that they are being heard.