Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago · 1 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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Speak up... nothing gets solved unless you do.

I was at a conference a little while back and had the opportunity to listen to a speaker named Talli Osborne. Without getting into her story, I think it is safe to say she was inspirational, motivational and will look back on a very rich life when she is eighty-five.  Click here to go to her website. She told many stories but I was struck with the story when she consciously decided to speak up.

Speak up... nothing gets solved unless you do.She spoke of a point in her life where she decided to tell people what she thought when asked, instead of shying away. Ultimately she got into the habit of telling people what she thought, even when they didn't ask, and she started to influence and change things. 

I remember hearing the same sentiments from a General Manager I knew long ago, who simply said, "If you are not participating in the conversations to manage the business, what value do you offer"

He was a little bit "harsher" than Talli.

The point of speaking up, speaking your mind, and adding to the conversation is extremely important... not only for yourself but for whatever issue, problem, idea, or plan you are involved with.

Here's what I have learned so far on this topic - 

  • At any given time, you will be the smartest person in the room... so share.
  • If you are shy, please get over it. It serves no one, including yourself.
  • If a leader asks, "Are there any questions?"... they mean it, so ask.
  • More often than not, if it falls apart it's because the person who had the answer didn't speak up.
  • Engagement is the easiest way to tell everyone you care.
  • Do not assume people know what you know.
  • If you want to engage a leader, tell them what you think. They may disagree, but they will respect you. And will listen the next time.
  • When you ask a question, you can bet 75 % of the room wanted to ask.
  • Although it can be said a committee created the camel*, more often than not, you end up with a better solution when there are more "voices" involved. 
  • If you don't say it in open forum, you should not be saying it behind closed doors.
  • Speaking to "power" can be intimidating, but it can also make things happen.
  • No one knows what you are thinking unless you tell them.

Is this easy? It should be, but sometimes it's not. You still have to speak up though, because there is no one stopping you.


* It is said that the camel was a horse designed by committee.

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Graham🐝 Edwards

4 years ago #27

Thanks for the comment Claire L Cardwell... the cool thing is it's never to late to start speaking out.... I'm like you I wish I had started sooner....

Graham🐝 Edwards

4 years ago #26

Thanks for the comment Lance \ud83d\udc1d Scoular

Claire L Cardwell

4 years ago #25

Great to read this again @Graham🐝 Edwards! Since I reached my 40's I speak out more and more and realise that life would have been so much better (and richer) if I had started speaking up in my 20's.

Claire L Cardwell

4 years ago #24

Great to re-read this again Graham\ud83d\udc1d Edwards! Since I reached my 40's I speak out more and more and realise that life would have been so much better (and richer) if I had started speaking up in my 20's.

Lance 🐝 Scoular

4 years ago #23

🥚cellent article 👥ed🐝🐝🐤🐳🔥🚲

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #22

This is a great idea Vincent Andrew. Appreciate it.

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #21

Thanks very much for the comment Phil Friedman... As I like to say, "people can't get angry at someone for doing their job", unless as you say it's "loud and obnoxious". Appreciate you reading my chicken scratchings... lol

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #20

Thanks for the note Sara Jacobovici.

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #19

This sound advice is for the real world, not for social media, where we are always told to avoid speaking out, lest we offend someone. Great reading too...from Graham Edwards.

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #18

Graham Edwards, this is not only, to my mind, a great post, but it is an absolute breath of fresh air on social media, where we are constantly told not to speak up, lest we piss someone off. Well, I have to tell you that, in my experience, the only thing that shuts down most people is if you raise your voice and become obnoxious. But people will not know what you are thinking or suggesting or saying UNLESS YOU SPEAK UP. Confidently, as you point out. Firmly, as you imply. And never apologetically. Yea, there are a few, although I venture to say a very few, in the real worlds of business and academics who will get pissed off over any challenge to what they are thinking or saying... but they are hardly worthwhile to deal with anyway. In the real world. Perhaps, the problem on social media is that so many people are here to be stroked and patted and told that they are great, the perception of the slightest challenge or deviation from what is seen as "positive" is faced with abhorrence. I always tell my consulting clients right off the bat, if you don't want to hear my opinion, don't ask me, and certainly don't hire me. I have never yet had one back out. That is not to say I've never been ignored, for I have many times. But I have never been not hired, or fired for speaking my mind about an important issue. Kudos on this one. And cheers!

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #17

Sara, this post inspired me to write one which I posted today: How to Speak Your Mind and Not Piss People Off I hope you like it.

Sara Jacobovici

5 years ago #16

I want to thank Ren\u00e9e Cormier. Well written and a great catalyst for an important discussion. This topic is not an easy, clear cut one. As discussed in your comments and those of your readers, so many factors are involved environmentally and intrapersonal and interpersonal issues. Along with the many insightful and practical suggestions already made, I would like to add a couple from my perspective. The first is to focus on what is being discussed, the issues, the project, the goals, the challenges, rather than on the people involved in the discussion. The second comes from a Helen Keller quote: “I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do something I can do.” The important work is in the mindset you develop prior to entering a discussion. None of this is easy but definitely worth the effort.

Sara Jacobovici

5 years ago #15

Great list Graham Edwards. A good resource to keep.

Sara Jacobovici

5 years ago #14

Well said (pun intended) Harvey Lloyd. All your points are valid and your conclusion powerful: "The differences one hears in the speak out is not only audible, but clearly different in many other areas. I agree we do need to speak out more. I would offer though, we need to ensure that how we speak up is just as important as the act itself."

Harvey Lloyd

5 years ago #13

Based on previous comments here and other places your principals have been very evident Ren\u00e9e Cormier. This is why i enjoy your commentary. I would rephrase some of your comments concerning standing up for others. In the not to long ago past, we could stand up and hold folks accountable for poor treatment of others. (Another speaking out context) Today i find that many victims who require that voice of support are really victims of misunderstanding expectations. I generally approach these situations with win-win. An old worn out strategy that has been given new names along the way, like EI. But asking the victim of such events, what they wanted and determining if it is achievable. To often i see folks speak out for or against something prior to understanding the real issues. They are usually plugged in tight with the emotional issues and tend to skip the facts, what can be achieved or demonstrate how to achieve a win for both. Of course this methodology will not get your video a million hits on youtube. I triple agree with you on the speaking up consequences. If you are going to practice a win-win approach and the situation requires a strong voice , then stand. Once the sword is drawn though, it won't see its sheath before victory. It is wise to know the battle prior to drawing the sword. ..."those who speak to make noise...." Then you must be totally enjoying the American Presidential Debates.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #12

By the way, I am anything but a confrontational person. I never look for a fight, and I actually hate conflict. It is only when the issue is highly important that I will engage in the battle. Most battles are not worth the effort for me. I'd make a terrible lawyer. :)

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #11

Harvey Lloyd, I am an intensely practical person and also a very principled person. I have stuck my neck out and spoken my mind, to my own detriment, on more than one occasion. The result is that on different occasions in my life, I have been fired, threatened with eviction and labelled a dissenter. That's okay. I am strong and I can take it. I will stand up for what is right because someone needs to. I will defend the weak, because someone needs to. I will voice concerns because someone needs to. The personal consequences matter less to me than making things right for others in the long term. The result is that even though I got kicked for it, I still managed to make a difference and that is really what matters. My thinking is that if you are going to speak up, then you should make it matter. My sentiment about those who just speak to make noise is much like Harvey's. Who needs them?

Harvey Lloyd

5 years ago #10

I agree with speaking up Ren\u00e9e Cormier. But you introduced some context to speaking up, two specifically, Professionally and Personally. If i don't know that something is irritating to you then i can't change, would be a personal call to speak up. If i am the leader of a project, group or problem then when you speak up please stay focused on the agenda. If you wish to add to the conclusions made prior to the resolution of the fix then see me after the meeting. But please speak up, i want to hear all insights. I guess i was coming from a perspective of being over loaded with folks speaking up, where Graham Edwards was referring to the group of folks that have difficulty finding their voice in challenging situations (shy). I was discussing the other end where folks seem to share their thoughts openly inside meetings where free thinking was held last week. We are currently on to execution now. Lively discussion. I do encourage folks to speak up, but also guide them through the process. My assumption is you would be speaking up for a reason. The reason represents an outcome you would like to see happen/added to the current dialogue. It's worth working through the best way to present the information so that all can hear. Also it helps if the forum is appropriate for the input. These and other techniques are typical in leadership settings where the leader is trying to insert their wisdom. It seems this is appropriate for all participants. These are fairly high level concepts if you are still working through courage issues of just speaking out.

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #9

Thanks for the comment Ren\u00e9e Cormier there is great importance in the "How". Any insight in optimizing the "how". This is definitely rich discussion ... thanks everyone !

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #8

Thanks for speaking up Kevin Pashuk. : ) Your insight is always appreciated and ... insightful. I'm an INTP in Myers-Briggs terms so when I wrote this I wrote it as a constant reminder for myself. And yes, it is always helpful that when you say something worth saying, or at least contrary to what currently being bantered around the table.

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #7

Thanks of the comment Harvey Lloyd... I like your motto and you are right the "how" is really important. I appreciate your insight !

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #6

Thanks of the comment Lisa Gallagher is fantastic and I appreciate it for myself too.

Graham🐝 Edwards

5 years ago #5

I noticed comments can only have up to 2000 characters so this is now shorter than my original.... Thanks for your comment and your question Vincent Andrew. I will admit it is a big question so I invite others to weigh in but here are some of my initial thoughts to How would you encourage the most timid amongst us to speak up? Up front I will say much of what I had mentioned in my post I have learned over the years as I am a natural introvert, reflector and observer. With the said this is what comes to mind. Profile yourself... you can do a quick and dirty Myers - Briggs on line. Develop some goals and objectives regarding not being timid and getting your voice and ideas out there. Discover what modes of communication you are most comfortable with, is is verbal, written, video, small groups, large groups, etc and play to your strength to get your voice out there. Participate in your small team meetings as these are (in theory) are safe places. Participate on social media platforms to start practicing your "voice, ideas, and things you would like to say" You can play to your strengths. Have a list of questions ready so if someone calls on you, the response is easy... "Yes Mr Leader, I would like you know your leadership style and what is the best way to communicate with you?" I hope this has helped...

Renée 🐝 Cormier

5 years ago #4

"Ultimately she got into the habit of telling people what she thought, even when they didn't ask, and she started to influence and change things. " When you don't tell people how you feel, you deny them the opportunity to change. How many times have you heard someone say, " It's a good thing you said something..." You are right to encourage people to speak up, Graham Edwards. Even though it isn't always easy to do, it is important. Good companies and good leaders provide opportunities for their employees to both contribute to and question initiatives. I realize there are risks involved at times, but quite often shaking things up creates opportunity.

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #3

I feel compelled to speak up on this for some reason Graham... I was at first taken aback on your point on shyness. It can be attributed to a number of factors, personality, work environment, cultural norms... etc. One can immediately think of several examples where speaking up could be career limiting, or more often than not, produce enough butterflies churning around to make one physically sick. Having said that, I agree with you. Don't let shyness become an excuse. If you consider it a disability to be overcome, rather than a 'given' that one must adapt to, then it is an important goal. Both you and your organization / family / relationship is better off. It's important to consider Harvey's comment #4 below. It's important to have something worth saying if you do speak up.

Harvey Lloyd

5 years ago #2

Speaking out comes with consequences, Graham Edwards. Now these consequences could be helpful to one but hurt you or many other outcomes. I find in today's soundbyte communications we tend to throw out bytes without considering our flash speak out consequences. I have a motto, if my comments or speaking out don't further the goal or the person in the journey of success then i should reserve my speaking out. Not because it doesn't need to be spoken but more to the point i am not willing to support my speaking out. If i speak out i then must support my points and this would require me to fully understand the processes being presented and also a framing of the questions or points to be made. I am generally not referring to clarifying questions one may have. The questions, position statements or other styles of speaking out that seek to redirect, change or detract from the goal are the ones that i refer to. In leadership we have many levels of information to consider in moving forward. Speaking out is not only wanted but much appreciated. However speaking out needs to be constructive, thought proving and focus light in areas maybe not considered. Sitting in meeting sometimes i experience those who speak out but bring with them a personal agenda. Then there are those who have spent time investigating possible solutions to the goal or issue and then speak out. The differences one hears in the speak out is not only audible, but clearly different in many other areas. I agree we do need to speak out more. I would offer though, we need to ensure that how we speak up is just as important as the act itself.

Lisa Gallagher

5 years ago #1

Well delivered Graham Edwards, I think it's helpful (or at least it was to me) that others who may recognize that a person is shy or timid to extend their hand first (so to speak). I found it helpful when working within a group that cares about their entire team because people are cognizant of those on their team. But, shyness is not something a person can just get over. It's always a work in progress. :)

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