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Creating Successful Leaders

I just released my new eBook: A Quick Guide to Courage. Let’s continue our discussion of aspects of courage…

It’s easy to fall in line and do/say/think what everyone else is doing/saying/thinking. If you’re like most people, you don’t want to rock the boat; you simply want to get through the work day, complete your daily tasks, and stay employed! While there’s nothing wrong with those goals, “falling into line” could become problematic if you disagree with something or encounter a situation that goes against your values, ethics, or perspective.

In these tricky situations, staying silent is the path of least resistance, BUT it is not always the best route. Why dare to speak up and go against the grain?

  • To uphold your personal code of ethics
  • To encourage others who are feeling the same way to also speak out
  • To share your perspective
  • To spark a dialogue
  • To encourage candid communication and cooperation

Speaking up can be a good thing, but it can backfire if done incorrectly. If you are not tactful, or if you speak out of turn, you might be instantly shutdown and silenced. Instead, approach a situation with respect, calm, and thoughtful language.

Here are a few tips:

  • If you need to speak up during a meeting or group gathering, either wait for a lull in the conversation or interject respectfully.
  • Begin by clarifying what you think you heard. For instance: “I believe you said XYZ, is that correct?”
  • Give your perspective using “I statements” and logic. For instance: “Let me explain why I am troubled by XYZ. From my perspective…”
  • Offer alternatives. If you have a different course of action in mind, state it as clearly as you can.
  • Invite conversation. For instance: “Clearly, this is my take on the matter. If I am missing or misunderstanding something, I welcome any clarification.”

If you have time to step away from the situation and think about your counterarguments, that’s great! Prepare your talking points, anticipate questions, and present your case (either in a one-on-one meeting or to your group). The same basic guidelines apply—asking clarifying questions, being respectful, using logic, inviting dialogue—but you also have the luxury of gathering evidence (if applicable) and drawing up a more comprehensive counterargument.

It is often uncomfortable to go against the grain, but it is often worth it. If you present yourself and your case with tact and reason, people will likely listen to and consider what you have to say. Tap into your reserves of courage, prepare as best you can, and remember that YOU and your perspectives are worthwhile (see the affirmations in last week’s blog post). Positive workplace environments are often built by the courage of individuals.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 

Her new eBook is called A Quick Guide to Courage
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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