What has become truly fascinating to me is the number of people who simply don’t want to share their opinion or say the truth to another person. The amount of self-censorship that most people put on themselves for no real reason, is incredible to me. The responses that I hear from many individuals is that they are either don’t want to offend someone, they don’t want to harm their personal or professional standing, or both. These responses to me simply don’t cut it.
Could you imagine if Martin Luther King, Jr., Galileo, or Susan B. Anthony didn’t express their views? Civil Rights would not have progressed as far as we have today, we would still believe the sun revolved around the earth, and women wouldn’t have the right to vote. Yes, these examples are extremes of people speaking their mind, but to a smaller extent, the same things happen to us in our lives.
Have you been in a meeting when the entire table is agreeing to a plan that you believe is a disaster waiting to happen? Have you had friends or family tell you about an important decision that they are going to make in their lives and nod along even though you have an alternative point of view? We do this because we don’t want to rock the boat; we go along and tell ourselves that we’re over-reacting and its ‘not worth the hassle’. This may be true at times, but most often there is someone else in that meeting or in your circle of friends thinking the exact same thing you are. And they’re just as fearful as you are about bringing it up.
So speak your mind. The worst that can happen is people spend an extra two minutes considering an alternative point of view and dismiss it (obviously if that happens too much you need to pick your spots better because you’ll lose credibility). A better outcome is that your points change the direction of an organization or a friendship and guide it to a place that others didn’t consider. The best outcome is that, regardless of whether the worst or better outcome occurs, is that you can go home at night, look in the mirror, and feel proud that you are being true to your values and principles.