How many times have you seen someone share their opinion in a meeting and derail the entire agenda? Other times, you’ve probably seen leaders give their opinions in a way that shows wisdom and experience. Which person do you want to be?

Leaders are asked opinions about all kinds of things, from day-to-day affairs to strategy to industry insights. To build a reputation as someone who provides a constructive opinion that shows leadership, no matter your level in the organization, business author Lolly Daskal recommends the following principles, which we’ll share in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

1. Make sure that the situation warrants an opinion. There are many cases where silence is the wiser path.

2. Ask yourself if you’re the best person for the job. People will always come to leaders for an opinion, but there may be someone else on your team—or even in another area or organization—who’s better qualified to respond. In those cases, you build more personal credibility by recommending someone else than by giving your own opinion.

3. Start by listening politely. Before you express your opinion make sure to listen. You’ll know exactly what’s being asked of you, you may learn more about the issue in the process, and the person doing the asking will be more engaged and receptive.

4. Think before you speak. Before you open your mouth to say something, take a step back and think through exactly what you’re going to say. Consider your tone and make sure your word choices leave as little room as possible for misunderstanding or trouble. Maintain a professional demeanor and be mindful of your body language.

5. Make sure you have all the facts. Everyone has the right to express their opinion, but make sure to do your research and know the facts first. The more you know, the more you can put into words what you mean to say.

6. Say what you think in a detailed, straightforward manner. Provide as many relevant specifics as possible when you give an opinion to ensure that people fully understand your point of view. Focus on the who, what, when and where of the situation to make a detailed statement of your opinion.

7. Use “I” statements. “I” statements are powerful because they promote connection and don’t make the others feel alienated or excluded. People often state opinions in a way that makes them sound like facts—a habit that puts off the people they’re trying to persuade. A simple preface like “I think…” or “In my experience…” can be all you need.

8. Provide the reasons for your point of view. Provide reasons and build a case to support your point of view. Your opinion gains credibility when it’s backed up with solid data.

Only express your opinion when it can be constructive to the conversation or decision. Finding ways to say it effectively is half the battle.

Source: Lolly Daskal is the author of the national bestseller, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness. She is also one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives and the world.