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IS SILENCING YOUR TRUTH NOBLE OR JUST PLAIN SELFISH?

Posted Tuesday, January 19, 2010, at 5:28 PM

By: Lisa Earle McLeod

www.LisaEarleMcLeod.com

You know who they are. They're the Type As who storm their way through life assuming that their opinion is the only one that counts.

Whether they're dominating the boardroom, the family dinner table or the church finance meeting, their truth, as they see it, takes precedent, and heaven help anyone who stands in their way.

There's no point even trying to tell them anything different; they'll just ignore you. And forget getting them to change their minds. It doesn't matter how much expertise you have or how important the project is, they're going to do things the way they want, so you're better off just keeping quiet.

Who wants to risk an argument or a conflict with someone who seems so sure of themselves?

I've observed this dynamic in hundreds of organizations, large and small. The Type As dominate, and the Type Bs stay quiet. Meanwhile, our families and companies never get the full value of true collaboration.

It's easy to blame the Type As. But as a hard-charging, stubborn, opinionated person myself, I feel obligated to take up for my own kind.

Yes, we do take charge, but we wouldn't do it if you didn't let us.

Some people may be true jerks, but most of us dominators aren't trying to intentionally trounce on your feelings or opinions. It's just that it never dawns on us that you might feel strongly about something and not be able to speak up about it.

I'm not trying to make excuses, but it's hard to imagine a reality you haven't experienced.

If you're a Type A, the only time you're really quiet about things is when you don't care. So when others don't make their opinions known, we assume that the subject at hand isn't very important to them.

This might sound strange to someone who struggles with voicing their opinions, but to us, silence doesn't feel like support; it feels like disengagement, and it can hurt.

As a Type A, I have continually remind myself: it's just as hard for some people to speak up as it is for me to shut up.

One of the core principles of The Triangle of Truth is Hold a Space for Other Perspectives. It's something many of us struggle with, and I spend a lot of time teaching this skill in my seminars.

However, there's a flip side. The person who isn't willing to risk putting forth their opinions may think they're subduing their needs for the sake of harmony. But they're actually doing just as much harm to their organization as the people who dominate.

When you check out verbally, it's usually just a matter of time before you check out mentally. And while it's easy to blame your disengagement on the type As, we're all equally responsible for the success of our businesses and families.

If you have ideas, it's not really polite to withhold them. It's actually kind of fearful and, well, selfish. I know that sounds harsh, but would you want to be part of an company or family where people kept their best thoughts to themselves?

It can be hard to speak your truths when we Type As are plowing forward with our agenda. But we need you to. We might not act like we like it, but we do.

Your truth plus my truth equals a new reality for us all. But the model only works if you're willing to bring your truth to the table.



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I can't take any more. The economy is tanking, the election is endless, and now it looks like I might have to sell my blood if I want to keep my kids in mac 'n cheese. Oh, and did I mention that, thanks to falling house prices, I probably owe more on my home than it's actually worth? I want to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and have somebody wake me up when my 401(k) bounces back. I don't know about you, but I'm finding myself so jittery about, well everything, that it's all I can do to surf the net. Kind of ironic, isn't it? I should be working more, but I'm so anxious about my finances that I'm actually working less. Alas, such is the world of grown-ups - stress, anxiety, depression. And to think that I wasted much of my childhood wishing I could be in charge of my own life. Why in the heck did I ever think that was a good idea? Give me a few cookies, a blankey and a nice place to lie down and I swear I'll never complain about an early bedtime again. These are tough times indeed. Even if you're still OK, you'd have to be one cold, hard, rich person to stay immune to all the angst in the air. So how do you cope? How do you get through today when you're so worried about tomorrow that you can't see straight? I overheard a news commentator say that people are thinking twice before they go out to eat or buy new clothes. I'm guessing that those are the people who still have jobs. Because the people without jobs aren't spending a nickel on anything except cheap carbs and keeping a roof over their heads. Yet as depressing as our collective and individual situations may be, the last thing we need to do is let our fear get the best of us. If you spend all day quaking and anxious, guess who wins? The fear. Yes, I know FDR had a roof over his head when he said "we have nothing to fear but fear itself," but he was right. Every moment you waste paralyzed with fear is a moment you could be doing something, or resting up so that you can do something tomorrow. It's been said that there are only two emotions, love and fear, and all the other emotions are derivatives of those. So I'd like to make a suggestion. Let's chose love. Let's decide to love each other and to love ourselves, no matter what happens. And if you're really a Pollyanna, perhaps you'll join me in deciding to love the fact that this crisis is serving as a call for us to become our better selves; a call for us to look within and rid ourselves of consumerism, greed and the need to keep up with the Jones; and a call for us to have more empathy for those who are struggling. Maybe this is a chance for all of us - and I include myself - to decide that we love our country and we love our fellow human beings more than we love our stuff. Yeah, I know it sounds hokey. But you don't change your circumstances until you change the thoughts that created them. Cowering under the covers in fear may feel safer. But in a crisis, the truly powerful response is love. (c) Copyright 2008, by Lisa Earle McLeod. All rights reserved. Lisa Earle McLeod is a keynote speaker, author and nationally syndicated columnist. Her books include "Forget Perfect" and "Finding Grace When You Can't Even Find Clean Underwear." Contact her at www.ForgetPerfect.com.