“I’m too worked up. I don’t know how to say what I’m thinking without upsetting people”
“I want to let others have a chance to speak up first”
“I don’t have anything new or valuable to contribute”
“I don’t know how to articulate what I’m thinking”
“I don’t want to prolong the meeting anymore then is absolutely necessary”
This is some of the rationale I hear from people who are chronically quiet in meetings or retreats. They have a perfectly good reason for not speaking up or contributing. And who am I to argue.
We all need to be conscientious of how we are showing up and contributing. Sometimes, when emotions are running high, it is best to give ourselves time and space to find our composure and not over-react.
But when someone is chronically resistant to giving voice to their thoughts and ideas, they’re actually doing a disservice to their team and their organization.
These perfectly good reasons end up being excuses for hiding. They’re habits formed over time to create safety by eliminating risks.
If you don’t speak up, you don’t risk hurting someone’s feelings, or embarrassment, or humiliation, or rejection, or a fight, etc.
Here’s the thing, being in relationship with people is inherently risky.
At some point, we all have to take a risk and give voice to an idea that may or may not go over well. Because we actually risk more by saying nothing.
So, the next time you notice yourself making an excuse not to speak up in a meeting, take a deep breath. Or two, Or three. Perhaps write down what you're thinking about saying first so you don't have to speak off the cuff. Then count down from 3, 2, 1. And raise your hand.
Your voice, your experience, your knowledge all matter! You can only make a difference by speaking up.