Silent Rooms are Judgemental Rooms

Lately I have been on a single train of thought, workplace safety. This train has many stops and the one I am at right now is judgment. This is not only judgment by your peers, or leadership - often it is judgment by yourself.

Picture this, you spent a few weeks sharpening your thoughts around a particular idea. You focused on the customer, have talked to your peers, aligned with your stakeholders, and have a great idea and plan. You and all your peers and stakeholders are awaiting a 4:30 pm meeting tomorrow to finally present your thoughts. You sweat over the last minute details, thinking about what you perceive as the gaps, making last minute edits, making your fantastic idea and presentation of it amazing. You finally walk away from your computer that night - distracted while spending time with your family, it’s all you have on your mind.

The next morning arrives, you wake up early and start your day - coffee first of course.Every break you review your idea and every meeting you are in you are distracted. You can’t bring your whole self to work.

You show up at 4:29 pm, anxious with excitement. As folks enter the meeting, you nervously small talk hoping to form a bond before the discussion. The meeting starts - perfect - the documents, the voice over, the points, the idea - nailed it. You are relieved and ready for the Q&A so you open the floor and wait.

You wait a little longer, you start to think things like - why are they not asking the obvious questions? Where did I mess up that I lost them? You ask a probing question “Does anyone disagree with the idea?” timidly hoping someone would say anything. Finally someone speaks up with the proverbial good job. You leave the meeting emotionally drained, devalued, demotivated, and unclear. You are trying to understand what went wrong, what you did wrong.

You did nothing wrong - your leaders let you down.

Leaders, it’s your job to engage the teams that are bringing you ideas. You must engage them with the same energy and curiosity they did, they must be met with the same energy. Be vulnerable, ask to understand where you do not. Making it safe to do so everywhere. Encourage what you like from the ideas, ask how they think about various aspects even if you agree, understand their process and how they arrived at what they did. Value the process they went through, or they won’t again. We can not create a culture we do not follow, and it’s upon us to make it safe. The culture of that meeting and every other one will be the culture of your team, group, organization, or company.

Do not allow a silent room - silent rooms are judgemental.

Silent Rooms are Judgemental Rooms


Matt Jezorek

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