Compliments of Scott* via Flickr

Quiet people outnumber the ones making noise. Unfortunately, waylaying our misgivings multiplies the unruly.

When we censor our voice, we squander our vote. “Gifting” our power is then a disservice. If you truly shared your sentiments, you might just give individuals a much need education.

Backlash could be the result of your reluctance – your wishes kept under wraps. We silence our opinions for the following reasons: fear that others won’t like us, fear of confrontation, inability to clearly articulate our concerns, and a host of excuses that prevent us from appearing as equals.

Keeping your mouth shut keeps you in a subordinate position. When we approach others with our hat in our hands, they will be only too happy to usurp our position. Have you ever minced words in terms of speaking your mind? If so, you’re depriving those around you of a valuable perspective – yours.

Stashing misgivings may create silence, but it conveys that you’re uninterested, apathetic, frightened, and/or unknowledgeable (this of course presumes that your coworkers act like adults). If they behave boorishly, then pausing your voice and pushing your “mute button” may be the best option.

Bullies ransack company meetings, plundering communal air space and pilfering peoples’ ideas. They are the thieves of mutual gatherings, robber barons of their peers’ self-esteem. They populate and thrive where self-restraint is in remission. In the absence of civility policy, actions may thus be markedly uncivil.

If you as a manager wish to curb discourteous outbursts, try the following:

  • Be present. Some persons simply cannot be left unsupervised. Bullies may interpret the boss’s absence as an opportunity to “take over” meetings, and to act as police officer to those considered “soft” targets. This phenomenon is amplified when subordinate bullies join forces to form a mob.
  • Be diplomatic. “A soft answer turneth away wrath” is still true today. When employees see you deftly handling difficult situations, they will likely follow your lead.
  • Enforce consequences. If there is no punishment for poor behavior, “survival of the fittest” will prevail. Widely posted policies that definitively outline expectations will get workers’ attention.
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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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