Friday, February 4, 2011

In My Brazen Opinion

In my brilliant courses at Simmons School of Management, I had more than one professor who noted that women often being their sentences, particularly in larger groups with "I think" or "I feel." In fact, Debbie Kolb, who taught my negotiation class, wouldn't let us continue speaking if we started our sentences that way. She'd interrupt and say "You think?"

Since then, I've made a conscious effort not to start my sentences with discounts like "I think." Since most of my work and networking takes place on line, where I can see what I'm typing, it's fairly easy to catch myself from writing it out. (Also, the brevity of Twitter makes it difficult to add in those extra 7 characters!)

So today, I thought about another self-inflicted put-down used so often on the Internet: IMHO. This acronym translates to "In My Humble Opinion." Go search Twitter right now for these four letters. You'll pull up a string of tweets on everything from Colin Firth's performance in The King's Speech to the complexity of bioethics... all of them qualified with "IMHO."

(Interestingly enough, IMHO is not limited to women users. I'd love to have the time to sample a cross-section of tweets and find out which gender uses the acronym most.)

I'm fed up with people not taking responsibility for their opinions. As I posted today:

Eric Andersen brilliantly replied with:

ha, I like that, maybe IMBO (in my brazen opinion)?

And so, I'm lobbing this out there. Let's make it a movement, a hashtag! #IMBO

Stop qualifying your opinions, and be brazen about them. If we can't lay claim to our own opinions, what can we lay claim to?

PS: Thanks to @Lipsticking and @DowntownWoman for helping to push this!

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  1. Love the discussion Kate and I agree about the discounting nature of IMHO (and I'm guilty of using it too)... However, this misses what I consider a more important point. People too often IMBO forget that they are putting forward their opinion - not fact. Accordingly, in business, saying "the presentation was not effective" is different from saying "I think it was ineffective" - unless you offer hard evidence. Personally (do you think that's the same as "IMHO"?) I think it's always more valuable to clearly separate and identify fact vs. opinion.

  2. I know you want to keep this gender neutral, but I have to point out it makes a difference. If you put a presentation in front of two people, most likely the man will say "This is effective" and the woman will say "I think this is pretty effective." Part of the reason I love online communication is because I can actually see myself typing "I think" at the front of my sentences and edit it out to make my statements stronger.

    When you're talking about "This is effective" or a similar subjective phrase, it's obvious that you're giving an opinion. If it wasn't an opinion, you'd say, "Data shows this isn't effective."

    But it's a good point, and you're definitely giving me a lot to think about. I may have to comment again later. Thank you so much for joining in.