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You just read something. Or you heard something. Or a thought entered your head, and now you have an opinion. So the question is, should you express it; that thought or opinion?

As an avid user of social media, I am consistently amazed at the number of people who feel that every thought that enters their head should come out of their mouth. Why is that?

If I think people with blonde hair are not attractive, and I think people with brown hair are absolutely fantastically attractive, do I need to express that opinion? Or might I want to consider the fact that many people have blonde hair? What does my expression of my opinion add to the world at large? And how might it harm people, whether I intended to or not?

It never hurts to take a moment to consider your opinion before you throw it out there.  What are you adding to the conversation?  Can you add to the conversation without demeaning the opinion or interests of others?  My mom often said, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Maybe there’s something to that expression.

So your favorite sport is agility and you don’t like obedience very much. That’s fine. Now can you explain to me why you feel the need to tell people who love obedience how boring it is, and how much better agility is? Remember, if you’re speaking publicly on a Facebook list, you’re talking to thousands, many of whom will love obedience. And if you love obedience, can you explain to me why you feel a need to tell agility competitors how easy their sport is, and how you don’t do it because it offers no challenge?  Have you taken a moment to consider how you just affected an agility competitor who just managed to squeak out their first agility title…barely?

Maybe we don’t have to express every opinion that enters our head. Maybe we could keep in mind that people are individuals with different interests. Some of us prefer one thing, and others prefer another. It’s not a matter of right or wrong; it’s not even a matter of expressing ourselves. Maybe it’s a matter of respect. Admiring that different people can appreciate such different things! Admiring another’s enthusiasm for their sport, without worrying too much about where we might fit inside their world.

Hell, my dad is fascinated by cactus plants, and while I can think of few things that interest me less, for the life of me I cannot think of one reason why I should tell him that.  Mostly I’m just interested in how excited he gets about the whole thing.  And no; I haven’t developed any desire to raise cactus but that doesn’t need to become a point of conversation. He loves his hobby.  I support his love.  Full stop.

In this day and age where every thought that enters anyone’s head seem to have permission to come out of their mouth or keyboard, I can’t help but wonder if we are doing ourselves any favors.  Why not build each other up instead?  Admire another’s enthusiasm, even if it’s not your passion?

Dog sports competitors are on the same page. They are fascinated by dogs and dog behavior. They enjoy training to a high level. And many of them are willing to compete and test their skills. That is worthy of admiration right there, whether or not you choose the same route as another.

Consider reserving your opinion for those times when you can actively support, encourage, and praise those around you; adding value to the overall conversation and feeling in the space.

About dfenzi

I'm a professional dog trainer who specializes in building relationship in dog handler teams who compete in dog sports. My personal passions are Competitive Obedience and no force (motivational) dog training. I travel throughout the world teaching seminars on topics related to Dog Obedience and Building Drives and Motivation. I own Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, a comprehensive online school for motivational training of performance sport dogs.

28 responses »

  1. Thank you for the “half-halt” (dressage term) check on our giving voice. Better to be silent and thought a fool, than to open our mouths and remove all doubt.

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  2. Barbara L Fairbanks

    Great message, Denise! Can we somehow direct this message to the curent W H dweller? I think it would do the most good if it were to land at that address!

    Reply
  3. Perfectly said! I’ve always said that liking Dr. Pepper should not mean that you have to hate Pepsi and Coke. Just be happy liking Dr. Pepper!

    Well written!

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  4. Thank you, Denise!
    I have been thinking the same thing, and I admire your ability to speak your mind. You are truly
    Gifted in many things, but this is important! Thank you for your insight, and thank you for sharing! Definitely food for thought!

    Reply
  5. Absolutely perfect! There is far too much negativity in our ‘other’ world we don’t need to bring it to our ‘real’ world.

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  6. Bravo Ms. Fenzi! I hope lots of people read this… and reflect… and internalize… In a world (dog sport world) where egos run rampant, opinions are often expressed too often and without sensitivity.

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  7. Ice Cream! It’s all about Ice Cream!

    I like Ice Cream! A!most any flavor will do but my go-to flavor is mint chocolate chip. Or is it white chocolate raspberry?

    Even if my favorite flavor is mint chocolate chip it’s OK if your favorite is salted caramel. And occasionally I might try your favorite flavor or you might try mine and it’s still good because it’s- Ice Cream! There have been times when the favorite flavor changes with a brand change.

    And that’s how I think about the different dog sports. I’ve used the Ice Cream! analogy to explain favorite breeds too. It’s funny how things can be so much easier to understand when you change it into Ice Cream!

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  8. Denise,

    Love your posts of wisdom, thank you for sharing. Your words speak to me, and I often wonder the same thing. Why go out of the way to write something negative? Would this be something you’re willing to say to a stranger, in person?

    Wanted to also take the time to you how much I absolutely enjoy your teaching style. Your straightforward approach and explanations are what I aspire to with my clients.

    Cheers!

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  9. Thank you! Well spoken!

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  10. rose-maria helle

    Just my thinking

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  11. So true! I wish more people would think before they post and consider others before they do post

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  12. Yeah well, that’s the internet, isn’t it? Everyone’s a critic and everyone’s right, because no one actually has to talk to each other face-to-face. I honestly can’t see that changing any time soon. But there are good parts of the internet, don’t get me wrong. Social media though? The only social media I have is WordPress and YouTube, and I don’t want anything else.

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  13. Amazing post Denise!! Right on!!!

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  14. Go Denise go
    Well said total supported

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  15. Love it, Denise!

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  16. SO. MUCH. YES. It often seems that social media is about indulging immediate gratification and not sharing measured, thoughtful content. Whether I am there to build an audience around my product or establish meaningful connections (or both!), I have learned that taking a moment to consider the opinions I share in my posts will serve me and my goals well! Thank you for this post.

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  17. Thank you and well said.

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  18. Should you express your opinion if it goes against the grain ? Remember 26″jumps, the chute and those silly little stickers we used to have to wear ? Have an article of clothing with your dog’s name on it, horrors, the judge might have to disqualify you. Question authority to bring about change and make things better. Do it nicely though. People listen harder when you are being nice.

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    • I think maybe what I am best known for is advocating for, and sharing, non-traditional opinions and personal positions. I find that I can do this while in no way, shape, or form trampling on the joy or interests of others. I hope my article did not imply that people should not share their differing opinions when that sharing might enrich the conversation.

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  19. Exactly. And I remember being dissed by a PHOTOGRAPHER who,up to that point, I loved,because I wanted a photo of a rally title,not a conformation win. He was still a great photographer,just less of a nice person. To paraphrase a popular chant, All Titles Matter – and I don’t care even if it is a title,as long as the participants are pleased.

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  20. You have made some really good point. In a recent conversation that I was having, concerning a divisive non doggy topic, an individual commented positively to my words but added that I could have further used the opportunity to encourage unity. Now that’s a word that has stuck in my mind for days!! Who wouldn’t want to see and experience more unity in our communities and nation?! Words are powerful and choices are as unique as the individuals they represent. I’d love for each person reading this to be encouraged to enjoy their dogs, their sports and respect the sports enjoyed by others:-)

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  21. I would think that everyone has had at least one experience of having their hobby, goal, interest or passion criticized by others. And knowing how that feels, you would think those individuals would restrain themselves from belittling someone else’s chosen dog sport/activity. Sometimes it feels like people have forgotten how to be kind.

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  22. Jackie Phillips

    People need to realize that the world is not all happy cupcakes and pink swirels. Not everyone is going to agree and there is nothing wrong with having a different opinion and offering it. What is “nice” or not is just opinion, and another person is not responsible for the happiness of another. If one person can’t accept the opinions of another that is their choice, and not the fault of the person offering it. There is never anything wrong with offering an opinion. That is called free speech and is the backbone of this country. Without it, we might as well be Russia or China or a number of other countries.

    Reply
  23. Great post! I wish this was something all people, of all interests, of all ages would consider before posting. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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