One of the senior executives is making an impassioned presentation in the leadership meeting. I can tell he wants the team’s support – including mine. What he is pitching is somewhat out of my field of expertise, but I’m trying to keep up. However, I begin to get uneasy as some things just don’t seem to add up.
Do I speak up about my misgivings? Well, after all I really don’t know much about this area, the senior executive is excited about his project and besides, I will probably just sound foolish if say the wrong thing and probably upset the senior executive. Everybody else is nodding and smiling so he must be right. So I smile and nod too. The senior executive beams, thanks everyone for their support and closes the meeting.
After the meeting over coffee Buddy, a co-worker, expresses the same misgivings I had during the meeting. Astonished, I asked why he didn’t say anything. Well, he responds, I thought everybody else agreed so I wasn’t going out on a limb by myself!
Has this ever happened to you? It has to me – too many times. This is called the Silent Lie. It is when you seem to be agreeing to something by your words or demeanor while all the time inside you are yelling STOP! or NO!, but fail to say anything or ask a question. Too many bad decisions have been made by leaders when their colleagues did not speak up. This is basically lying. You are communicating agreement when you don’t really agree.
Why do we do that? Here, we call it the Fear of Man, which is usually rooted in pride. We don’t want to embarrass ourselves if we say something that might be foolish. We want to be a part of the group, so we don’t want to say anything that may jeopardize our standing in the group. And we especially don’t want to do anything to incur the displeasure of the boss! This is Fear of Man. As leaders, we have to understand that our identity is in Christ and that we are to seek to follow Him and please Him – not a man. In doing so, we are then freed up to speak up.
As a leader, you are responsible to be a truth teller. Do not let the Fear of Man cause you to “tell” a Silent Lie.
Question – how do you handle situations when it seems you are the only one with misgivings?
Have a great week!