Strong opinions, weakly held

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —August 24, 2006
Filed in Collaboration

One of the my favourite blogs at the moment is Bob Sutton’s Work Matters. He’s an academic at Stanford who has a practical view of organisational issues and the author of the no asshole rule. A phrase that jumped out at me while reading Bob’s post this morning is the advice to have strong opinions, weakly held. Strong opinions encourage you to develop strong arguments for your point of view while holding these opinions weakly enables you to see and hear other people’s ideas and change your opinion as you learn more about the world.

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:


  1. Matt Moore says:

    I can kinda see where you are going with this but the language needs a bit of tweaking. I cannot immediately tell the difference between a “strong opinion” and a “strongly-held opinion”.
    Instead of strong opinion:
    – Solid?
    – Ambitious?

  2. I think the wording works well because of its contradictory nature. A strong opinion is something you believe in. The term ‘weakly held’ seems to be contradiction because we’ve just said we have a strong opinion but we are willing to change our minds, and we listen.

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