We all know someone who is annoying because their opinions reflect a pessimistic perspective. They claim to “know” 43 reasons something will not work and posture themselves as the lone voice of reason as they grimace and pound their fists. Even if people like this are right often enough to have credibility, it is convenient to shove them aside because they aggravate those who want agreement and who follow the boss like the proverbial pack of lemmings.
In situations where important decisions need to be made and problems need to be solved, which type would you rather have on your team? In terms of your career, which type would you rather be? Before choosing person #2 as the safer career choice, consider the following opinions:
“If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.”
— Attributed to Winston Churchill
“Too much agreement kills the chat.”
— Eldridge Cleaver
But, being like Person #1 has its risks, too. Rubbing someone the wrong way too many times could cut you out of the action when you are most needed.
“If two men on the same job agree all the time,
then one is useless.
If they disagree all the time,
then both are useless.”
— Darryl Francis Zanuck
There is a third choice and it’s not a “have it both ways” middle of the road position. Very simply, it is, “think objectively and think for yourself.” Before forming an opinion, look at the facts and be open to possibilities. Consider all options from a risk/reward perspective. Listen well and ask thoughtful questions every step of the way. Seek to understand the emotional aspects of the situation and any proposed actions. Then, form your own opinion and express it in a timely, respectful manner without waiting for the results of a poll. In other words, becoming a 3 means being a creative, independent thinking, responsible problem solver.
“If two people agree on everything, one of them isn’t thinking.”
Whether a person is one who always sees the gloomy side of the future or one who always finds a comfortable position with the majority, neither is on an upward career path. Why? Because a good boss wants and needs to hear a variety of honest viewpoints. Bad bosses want edification of their ideas. If you establish your reputation as the “devil’s advocate” (one who argues just for the sake of argument) you’ll start seeing your opinions convicted without a fair trial. How will you know? Your first clue: when you notice people rolling their eyes or sighing as soon as you open your mouth. Your second clue: when you stop getting invited to the meeting.
Is being a 1 or a 2 sabotaging your future? Could becoming a 3 be a career-advancing strategy for you? Think and decide for yourself.