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Friday, 1 December, 2023

Speak out at the right time or shut up

Speak out at the right time or shut up!

As a wilful business ‘maverick’, I sometimes see situations arising in the workplace that I feel strongly about; and where I consider, with a little more thought and consideration, a better result could have been achieved.

But I wonder – should we always speak out straight away ..?

I sometimes feel very strongly, to the point where I seek to take action when things do not appear to be fair in the workplace. For example, when someone who is very capable and extremely reliable, is overlooked in favour of someone who just knows the right people or dwells on historical successes to leverage for promotion.

Another example of this, is when edicts come down from ‘on high’ detailing delivery schedules which clearly do not appreciate or accommodate the volume of work required or the level of resources available to complete it.

For the most part – being the kind of person not to sit by and watch — but instead, take action, is the reason why maverick consultants are paid well for participation in client projects. Their ability to marry clarification and sound reasoning, together with a consistent, high quality delivery track-record; count for a lot. It is considered a premium value in most business settings.

However in the long term – in my experience, it sometimes turns out that there are occasions when we only have some of the facts and because of this we are not seeing the whole picture.

In these situations, wading in or ‘venting off’ your heated opinions without thinking things through is not only going to get you ignored or criticised by your team / peers but also paints a negative view as both trouble maker and also unproductive, moaning team members by the members of staff we report to.

This kind of outspoken behaviour is, in the medium to long term, going to be disruptive both for ourselves and others and may not give any commercial or personal benefit.

If you also share this wilful tendency … here’s something that I do, which may be useful to you.

  • Try to take the time to question the rationale behind what you are seeing before forming a firm opinion based on your initial impression of what is happening. Spend time to try and understand the motives and factors causing the current decision making process that you are finding challenging.
  • Discuss the issue with your peers – ask them what they think (another persons opinion view can only help you – even if you disagree with them) and engage with those responsible for the underlying decisions and make a point of really listening to what they have to say on the matter . It may well be that some information has not been that well communicated to you and therefore you are seeing only half the picture.
  • As a child, my mother often said to me ‘Two ears – one mouth, use them in that proportion!’ There’s some truth to that!

Speak out at the right time or shut up!

The advantages of taking some time to consider how you feel, and also listening to the views of others, before formulating an opinion yourself are numerous:

  1. You will gain ‘moments of clarity’ – time to realise you may not be understanding everything and need further information.
  2. You will consistently appear to be someone who bothers to get properly informed before making decisions.
  3. Those that calmly state the truth and can back it up with evidence, are respected as having both integrity and reliability. You will become more listened to by others.
  4. You will be less likely to voice objections because you are taking the time to be sure – when you do give them, it will be a less common occurrence and therefore will make a bigger impact.
  5. Taking the time to listen to other people builds trust between you both and will also allow you insights into the factors affecting future decisions.

Finally remember, as my mother also was fond of saying, ‘If you cannot say anything valuable or uplifting – don’t say anything at all’.

At the end of the day – you may indeed be right in your opinion … the situation may indeed need a ‘whistle-blower’ or radical changes in order to improve it and gain the desired result.

Remember though – there is always a price to be paid for each negative action taken and comment made, so be sure that this price is worth paying by both you and the organisation you are part of before you proceed.

Don Cooke
Don Cooke
After over 30 years in business, Don strives to give the sort of encouragement and business support that will help you be stronger as an individual and also grow opportunities to maximise potential. Don lives with his family in Sussex.

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