I Want to Hear Your Opinion – I Just Don’t Care What It Is…

Marisa Keegan Culture, Engagement and Satisfaction, Marisa Keegan

As you know, I’m sort of a closet reality show junkie, and even though most of these shows make me crazy, I just can’t stop watching. Well, there’s a new reality show in town and a new rant coming from me.

Rather than re-writing the storyline, I lifted the episode description from a blog called Poop In My Hair:

“Pregnant in Heels is a docu-drama (reality show was sooo last year) that follows Rosie, a Maternity Concierge. Her job is to help rich Manhattan mommies-to-be contribute to the economic recovery by squeezing out a 7 pound reason to employ a playgroup coach, mommy-and-me stylist and two nannies.

[A recent] show featured a couple who hired Rosie to help name their 3rd baby. But they were rich a-holes, so they called it “developing their baby’s brand.” 

To this end, Rosie conducted a focus group and gathered a think tank of experts including a pop-culture writer, advertising exec, fashion designer, and a poet (who clearly shopped at thrift stores and wondered how on earth he’d ended up in this meeting). Before the think tank got to work, Mom and Dad gave them a few guidelines:

1. Nothing decorative (food names included, so scratch Broccoli Rabe and Biscotti off your list.)

2. Nothing ending in an “S.” (??)

3. Nothing beginning with the letters R, S, T, L, N or E.  (Not Wheel of Fortune fans, I guess.)”

So – while all of that is obnoxious enough we haven’t even gotten to the punchline yet. After Rosie put so much effort into forming the ‘think tank’ and the group sat around testing names for days (which included focus groups, surveying business leaders, etc), and they came up with a long list of perfectly acceptable names for the parents.

Yet when the baby was born and the name was revealed, it was the original name that the parents mentioned in the first 3 minutes of the episode. The same name that everyone in the think tank hated, business leaders cringed at, and focus groups gagged over.

Obviously, I had a few choice words for the TV screen and the idiots on it, but mostly, it left me wondering why people ask for opinions when they don’t really care what they are. And then I realized that this happens quite a bit in business. I can think of several times where my boss asked me for my opinion and already knew what (s)he was going to do.

Here’s why that can be an engagement downfall in the workplace:

1 – If the person you’re asking is really invested in the outcome and you blatantly ignore their thoughts/opinions, it’s demoralizing and is a quick way to stall productivity and potentially decrease engagement.

2 – If you’re a typical “ask but ignore” manager, you are going to stop getting candid opinions in the future and employees will care a lot less about the projects they are working on. Because they know that in the end they really don’t have a say in the outcome.

At some point we all fall into the trap of asking someone for their opinion – when all we’re really looking for is validation that our decision is the right one. Let’s try harder to make sure that we’re asking for opinions when the opinions of others will really count, rather than when we’re just looking for someone to agree with the decision we’re about to make.