Why we have cultures of silence
I am reading Crucial Conversations–moving very slowly through it and it is excellent. They provide video links to illustrate what they are saying in the text (a bit awkward if you are reading on a kindle) and have even sent me other articles to read. I just finished their Eliminating Cultures of Silence, a position paper by Crucial Conversations and have clipped a number of sections out of it into Evernote. Following are some four reasons they suggest in this paper as to why a culture of silence may exist in your (or in my own) organization.
1. You observe a potential problem, but you figure the possible calamity isn’t a sure thing. It’s not like death or bankruptcy is imminent; they’re just possibilities.
2. Nobody else seems concerned and you don’t want to sound like an alarmist.
3. You figure even if you do speak up, nobody will actually change anything—the organization is too mired in bureaucracy.
4. Finally, it seems like a sure bet that saying something will damage your career. You would be delivering a really unpopular message (“I think you need to re-examine the launch—at the cost of fifty million dollars.” “I think we need to confront the senior execs and maybe send them to jail.” “I think the doctor is wrong and needs to follow my ideas.”). And messengers get shot.
This inability to bring up touchy, controversial, or unpopular issues lies at the heart of every culture of silence.
Which of these is most problematic for you and your organization.