Derek Sivers

from the book “Anything You Want”:

Don’t add your two cents

2016-07-25

“My two cents” is American slang for adding a small opinion or suggestion.

An employee says to the boss, “I’ve been working for the past two weeks on this new design. What do you think?”

The boss says, “Good job. Maybe just change the blue to gold, change the word ‘giant’ to ‘huge’, and get rid of the border. Other than that, it’s great!”

Now, because the boss said so, the employee will have to make those changes.

But there’s a big downside: The employee no longer feels full ownership of their project. (Then you wonder why they’re not motivated!)

Imagine this instead:

The employee says, “I’ve been working for the past two weeks on this new design. What do you think?”

The boss says, “It’s perfect. Great work!”

This slight change made a huge difference in the psychology of motivation. Now that person can feel full ownership of this project, which is more likely to lead to more involvement and commitment for future projects.

The boss’s opinion is not necessarily better than anyone else’s. But once you become the boss, your opinion is dangerous because it’s not just one person’s opinion anymore — it’s a command! So adding your two cents can really hurt morale.

A business should not focus on the boss, so this restraint is healthy. You shouldn’t give your opinion on everything just because you can.

Obviously, if there’s more than “two cents” worth of stuff that needs to change, then this rule does not apply. But if your contribution is small and just an opinion, let it go. Let the other person feel full ownership of the idea, instead.