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Are You Speaking Up or Keeping Silent in Meetings?


THERE'S CONFLICT... you speak up or keep silent?

It's a fabulous day for a meeting, right? You may feel like meetings are running (or ruining) your life. Most people describe meetings as boring, a waste of time, or a political nightmare. Very few people talk about meetings as worth the time spent wading through the conflict to achieve something meaningful.

What causes this to happen?



The absence of speaking up originates from several sources, including:

  • fear of retribution (pain avoidance)

  • fear of engaging in a battle (risk of public humiliation)

  • fear of committing to a potential task (i.e. more work)

  • unsure or insecure, ("I might say something stupid or I could get fired.")

  • unwilling to expend the energy needed for the battle ("I'm just surviving")

You can probably think of more personal and specific reasons, but my goal in this post is to give you food for thought. I go back to somewhere in the period of A.D. 29 and 36, where time records the the death of a well known historical figure, Jesus Christ.

Most people know the story. This man was in the custody of authorities, was brought in for questioning, and tortured. History records that the top authority, Pontius Pilot interrogated him, and despite his track record of eloquent speaking abilities, Jesus remained silent. Why didn't he defend himself? He could have worked his way out of it and avoided a lot of pain.

Pretty similar to what happens in a meeting.

How many times have you refrained from defending your position? Did you have a chance to speak up, but you chose not to? Afterwards, you think, "I should have said..." or you have a "meeting after the meeting" where your words are too late and spilled to the wrong person. Contemplate what it is that is keeping you quiet, then ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Is my silence due to fear of retribution, pain, commitment, or public humiliation?

  2. Is my silence due to my own insecurity or unwillingness to engage?

  3. Is my silence going to change the situation?

You want to make a difference. Is it worth it?

These questions probe your desire to make a difference versus self-preservation. Sometimes, self-preservation is valued more than living a life of meaning. We get short-sighted when faced with a tough moment that involves pain and conflict. You really have to get clear on what is more important, avoiding pain or going in for the battle with full battle gear.

Is there a time to remain silent?

To answer this question, I go back to our famous historical figure who sat in silence as he knew he was facing death. Though contrary to human nature, there IS a time to be silent, and that is when you are serving a greater purpose that would ultimately change the turn of events. There was only one time that Jesus really remained silent.

Silence is the answer when you know it will change the world, your circumstances, and people's lives for the better.

Think about this as you sit in your next meeting. Move past self-preservation and into meaning. Someone is waiting for you to speak up.

Consider working with a coach. Nothing helps you make progress faster than creating a plan with someone and having them hold you accountable to sticking to it. The School of Executive Presence Coaching Programs can help - click here to get started today!


Angela Nuttle Corporate Talent Institute

Angela Nuttle is an author, speaker, talent remodeler™, and consultant in talent and organizational development. As founder of The School of Executive Presence, she teaches business people how to show up with executive presence. She also works directly with CEOS, Business Leaders, and HR Teams to develop people, potential, and processes that create productive and profitable business environments. To learn more about her experience with Fortune 500 companies and relevant solutions, visit or

Schedule a complimentary 30 minute consultation to discuss your personal and professional development to see if our unique development experiences are a fit for you. If you are an organization looking for ways to build your leaders and top talent, contact us here.

Interested in learning more about Angela's work and opportunities for her to speak at your next event? Contact her here.

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