Opinion Can Make You Assertive About LIES!

The desire to know, when you actually don’t, is a powerful force in everyone. Peter Scholtes provides some interesting research and observation about opinion in his book, The Leader’s Handbook. His research data came from the business arena, specifically manufacturing, where measurable data is available.

So, his research is not from highly charged emotional issues related to religion or politics. It shows how opinion is a tool that promotes lies, primarily when you aren't willing to look at the data!


The Data Was Plotted

The topic was about a problem on the floor of a manufacturing facility.

The research team knew the problem, but decided to ask people in the facility what they thought the problem was. Each person's answer was plotted on the graph based on how factual their answer was and how convinced they were about the accuracy of their answer.

So, the graph's left scale shows how convinced a person was - Unsure to Absolute Conviction. The bottom scale shows the degree of facts associated with the answer they gave - Outright Lie to Well Documented Truth.

The Expected Correlation

With those two scales, you expect the correlation to be like it shows in the picture above, right? Well, that did not happen in this situation. Watch the video to see where the variety of answers were on the chart and where most answers were.

Here is a quote from the book.

The (Expected Correlation)...would be an ideal and logical correlation. The X’s represent what we commonly observe in everyday life. Discourse is usually cloaked in the rhetoric of rationality. However, data is a necessary ingredient to rationality, particularly data showing variation. Without data, opinion prevails. Where opinion prevails, whoever has power is king. The ultimate correlation, therefore, is more likely between assertiveness and clout, not assertiveness and objective truth. It is possible that managers who wish to hold on to the illusion of power may resist a statistical view of work. - Peter Scholtes

A Key Discovery for Leaders

So, what they discovered is many people were ABSOLUTELY convinced about a LIE. People were "pounding the table" about an opinion they had. While others were convinced about the truth, more were convinced about opinion rather than fact.

This is a key learning for leaders! The real correlation is NOT between Conviction and Well Documented Truth. It is between Assertiveness and Power. That means, if you as a leader have the Power, when you "pound the table" it may be about LIES and that is what is put into action.


Please get more facts instead of just using your opinion - especially if you have the power to take the next action for the group.

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