Speaking in absolutes: always a good idea

As a general rule, we’re often told not to speak in absolutes. In fact, as was when I was a child, I often tell my own daughter to precede her comments with “I think…” versus “That is…”

For example, I think we’ve all learned that “I don’t like baseball,” is much better than “Baseball is stupid.”

The first acknowledges that it’s a matter of opinion and also doesn’t run the risk of insulting anyone.

But often, I prefer to speak in absolutes.

I’ve found, especially in the Pacific Northwest, that people are very unwilling to share opinions on nearly anything. I lived in Seattle during the last Presidential election, and I never heard one conversation about the election during the entire election season.

In Wisconsin, I wouldn’t have been able to go a day without hearing some sort of argument or debate… or at least a snide, baiting comment.

Hearing the opinions of others is healthy for all. I think it makes us all smarter, and everyone involved in those conversations comes out better for it.

When you share your opinions, you’re true to yourself. You’re not hiding anything. You get to stand up and be who you are and think what you think. Having debates or arguments with people of other opinions also makes you reconsider your points of view. Sometimes it reaffirms why you think what you do. But other times, it makes you consider why you might be wrong.

Debate is always healthy, and when it’s over, everyone knows where everyone stands.

This is why I like to intentionally speak in absolutes. By making a statement of fact out of something that is obviously an opinion, it makes people take a side. From that point forward, people will approach the conversation as a challenge.

If they agree, they’ll help you build on your reasoning and perhaps give you even more reason to believe what you do. If they disagree, they’ll give you more points to consider. Those points will either make you even better at defending your point of view or perhaps alter it. Either way is a positive step.

My favorite thing about speaking in absolutes is that it keeps everyone honest. No one sits quietly by not taking a stand. And when you’re leading a professional creative team, as I do, it’s even more important because we need to be our own harshest critics of our work before the work gets to the client.

A client receiving creative work from my department should never be able to come up with a criticism, objection or question that my team hasn’t already thought about. If they do, we didn’t do our jobs.

Speaking in absolutes leads to conversation. Conversation can sometimes lead to confrontation. And when done properly, confrontation leads to resolution. That’s progress, and that’s always a good result.

This entry was posted in general thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply