The Consequences of a Silent Lie

It is Friday! Hope you have a great weekend!

Does the following sound familiar? You are sitting in a leadership meeting and the team, led by a strong and persuasive leader, are headed down the path to a decision. It seems everybody is on board with the direction, but you keep having these doubts or “checks” about the wisdom of the decision. To you, there are some important unanswered questions or you have some deep concerns that you believe need to be addressed. Yet, everyone else seems to be on board and not asking questions and you sure don’t want to be the wet blanket on the meeting, so you simply keep quiet and nod in seeming assent as the meeting comes to a close.

You have just lied (a silent lie) and it is to the detriment of your team and organization. I have written before on the Silent Lie before and to read more on it click here.

I was recently told the story of the consequences of a silent lie by some leaders. The team was going down the path of taking an approach to an issue that was quite a new approach for them. There was excitement about the new approach and it looked like a promising answer to a particular challenge within the organization. However, one of the leaders, an important leader, had reservations about the decision and direction, but did not voice them due to the excitement of the other team members.

The result of the decision was not positive. The concerns that the one leader do not voice proved to be valid. The problem was that if he had voiced his concerns, it would have been a simple change that could have been easily worked out in the meeting. However, it later became an issue that involved people and their lives and became messy. The point is that there are very real and serious consequences to the silent lie.

Learn to speak up and voice your concerns – do not be guilty of a silent lie – other people’s live are affected.


The Silent Lie

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!