The Cost of Silence

It seems obvious that if people don't speak up then we might lose a brilliant cost-saving, time-saving or risk-mitigating idea! Yet, we fail to create an environment where everyone is comfortable to speak up. It is predominantly up to the leaders in a group to set the framework for open, transparent and equal discussion but we all have a part to play!

I recently heard that more and more folks entering the job market and even some with roles in management grew up in an age where their main form of communication was electronic and are ill-equipped for in-person conversation. If this is true, then we have a large number of current and future leaders who, by no fault of their own, are struggling to speak up!

If we grew up in a world where to avoid conflict you simply had to ignore (or "ghost") the person on the other end of the phone, tablet or computer then what conflict resolution communication skills do we bring into the office and project team where teamwork and collaboration are paramount?

It's not all about conflict resolution, but if we don't have this basic communication skill then this blogger believes it will compound itself to a point where even the smallest hint of conflict will trigger another "ghosting" reaction which in itself compounds the problem.

On the flip side, if you are one of these from the electronic based communication age and do have the "courage" to speak up and challenge someone in this e-world then it's most commonly done under a pseudonym. There is so much "trolling" on social media these days that it affects people in ways which we are still coming to understand!

Don't get me wrong, electronic communication isn't all bad. We would never have been able to continue doing as much as we currently can during say a global pandemic lockdown if not for the advances in technology, but have we tipped the scales too far?

If teamwork requires everyone to work as a team (and together towards achieving a common goal), then we all have a duty to ensure that everyone in the team is being heard. Remember, just because you may not be accountable does not mean you aren't responsible - it's more of a "not my fault, but definitely my problem" than a "not my fault, not my problem" way of thinking. It's ok to not agree with someone and it's ok that someone does not agree with you!

Ask yourself a few questions; how are you contributing to the team? Are you making yourself heard? If not, why? Can you build the courage to speak up? Can you be an example (read: leader) and show others that it's ok to speak up? If you consider yourself a leader, ask yourself if you're helping create the right environment? Can you mentor someone to speak up? Can you support those that feel a bit less comfortable in those situations?

I love technology and this isn't technology's fault, but if what I wrote in my second paragraph is true, then we've adopted electronic communication methods at what seems like the expense of basic human interaction.

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