We all have opinions. And despite attempts at objectivity, every piece of writing is laced with them. From the angle we choose, to the voices we amplify to the facts we highlight, writing is an act of sharing ourselves—and our opinions. This is especially relevant in the business industry as more and more CxOs write blog and LinkedIn posts that demonstrate their expertise and show how business is deeply personal.
The rub occurs when sharing our opinions with others who might disagree, be it colleagues, clients, or even potential new employees (as can be the case on LinkedIn). Here are some tips that can help ensure your opinions bring the intricacies of the subject to life and avoid alienating readers.
Cultivate a community mindset
The first step in communicating subjective opinions is recognizing and valuing your audience’s shared humanity. This means coming to the conversation from a place of respect and compassion—taking the time to understand how others might think, feel, and work. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of “my way or the highway,” especially when talking about complicated or polarizing subjects, such as scaling a business in the face of climate change or managing market risk during a pandemic. However, it’s crucial to consider how these business dilemmas can affect communities around the world.
Listen to others, particularly those in the field
All opinions are a product of the chorus that came before them, for better or worse. Writing an article on retail supply chains without ever having read on the topic would be ridiculous—as would offering opinions on how automation will affect workers without ever having spoken to them. Listening to voices in the field and reading (not skimming) the work of those who have come before will not only validate your opinion but also amplify the perspectives of those in the thick of it.
Furthermore, if your opinion relates in any way to traditionally marginalized groups (via racial identity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or class), you must doubly consider how they will receive what you’re writing. One way to ensure that your piece has the intended impact is to involve diverse voices during the development phase. Combining this legwork with rigorous risk review before publishing can help prevent any misunderstandings.
Write with intention
Before even beginning to consider how to share data, you must ensure the data is solid. A strong review involves double-checking the numbers, verifying claims, and ensuring consistency among qualitative and quantitative claims.
Once you’ve gathered and verified the research, it’s necessary to consider how to best present it; nobody likes a data dump. Recognizing that your audience members hold their own opinions means you should take care to explain the rationale and relevance behind yours. It’s okay to lay those out slowly and step by step. Speaking and writing with intention not only makes you appreciate the power behind your words but also shows that you’ve done your homework. And if you care about something enough to share a strong opinion, it’s likely you’ve already done that research anyway. Why not put it to use?
The Latin root of the word “communicate” means “to share” and “make common.” These common bonds, measured through language and how we share it, can connect us on this ride called being human. And, alright, sometimes they make us big poetry fans too, but that’s just my subjective opinion.