Oct 13, 2022
"It's better not to say anything." Man, oh man, does this lie keep us from some important conversations. Before we dive into why we tell ourselves (or others) this lie let's make sure it’s really a lie before we start huh?
When you find yourself thinking, “It’s better not to say anything.” it’s a good idea to ask yourself, is this true? I love the question “Is it or is this true?” because it forces you to stop and think. When you’re weighing options on whether to speak up, it’s important to think through the consequences.
There will be times when it is better not to say something. Perhaps when you’re allowing an employee or report to tackle a problem on their own. You may see a quicker solution than what they’ve come up with however, they need autonomy and opportunity to learn independently, not have a problem solved for them.
And there will be times when it’s critical that you say something. When a project is about to go over budget, a critical error is going to be made that will impact delivery of service to your customers or when you see inappropriate behavior at work (bullying, harassment, discrimination). It’s critical to speak at times like these, however, sometimes we convince ourselves it’s not. Here comes the lie “It’s better not to say anything.”
Why do we accept this lie from ourselves? Here are a few reasons…
It could be because we’re scared, and we don’t feel safe to share. Sometimes that’s true and sometimes it’s not. Maybe we’re afraid to speak up because we’re afraid we’ll get labeled as a naysayer, troublemaker, or someone who is negative or, possibly worse, is that we’re afraid if we speak up, maybe we’ve learned if we speak up, nothing happens. There are loads more reasons I’m sure, but these are a few of the big ones that come to mind.
So what do we do? How do we push against the lie “It’s better if I don’t say anything?” We ask ourselves what’s the cost of not speaking up. What’s the cost to the company, what’s the cost to other people but most importantly what is it costing us? Are you losing your peace of mind? Are you going against your values? Are willing to sacrifice your integrity by silently condoning actions you don’t agree with?
It's not easy to speak your mind when it feels risky; however, I ask you to consider what the long-term consequences will be if you don’t.
Lack of communication is a serious problem in the workplace today. Employees report overwhelmingly that they don’t receive timely, accurate, or even honest communication from their employers. We’re wasting time, resources and eroding trust. We can’t control what others do, but we determine our actions, and our actions determine our character.
The next time you find yourself saying, “It’s better if I don’t say anything," ask yourself if that’s really true.
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