Welcome All!

If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Conspiracies of Silence

If you seal your lips when you really should be speaking out, 

If you don’t address the problem that everyone knows about,

If you notice failure but don’t acknowledge it,
If you let difficult truths remain unspoken,
If blind spots and self-deception go unchallenged,
If you allow yourself and others to ignore, suppress and distort information,

You may feel safe,
You may be able to avoid risk,
You may do as everyone is doing,
You may perceive communication to be constructive …

… but …


Whatever rational or irrational fears keep you from having candid conversations, a few things are certain. Dead certain:
à Problems that are not acknowledged do not get better on their own.
à Truths that are not spoken have an impact. The wrong kind.
à Critical information that is left out of the equation still adds up. To the wrong sum.

à Failing to elicit, hear, and act on critical feedback puts everyone and everything at risk.

à Organizational secrets distort information, practices, and relationships.

à An absence of courage and candid conversations jeopardizes you, your family, your team, and your organization.
Don’t be a conspirator to silence. Don’t contribute to destruction of transparency, creativity, effectiveness, and true respect.

The most positive, contagious, and productive state of mind is candor filled with compassion and humility. Yes, they do go together. Very well. 


  1. Carolien - this is very thought provoking. It's easy to think that keeping silent is not a decision, but it really is. Not saying what needs to be said carries with it consequences and implications that should not be underestimated. Speaking the truth in an effective way is always a better alternative.

  2. Ileana, Thank you for emphasizing that keeping silent is a decision. A big decision with generally big consequences. And this can go either way of course. There are certainly situations in which remaining silent may create the best possible outcomes. I worry about people's (and my own) intentions, means, and motives. Are they the right ones whenever we decide not to speak truthfully? I'd like to quote my friend and journalist/writer Gary Gilson who remarked on a different social media to this post. Gary wrote: Ostrich-like defensiveness should join the list of Deadly Sins. I agree with Gary.
    I appreciate your interest in my perspectives Ileana!

  3. This was a most interesting post, allowing the reader to experience the spectrum of feelings starting with the first six Ifs. This causes guilt, but that is OK because we soon feel safe and realize that we are merely conforming and blending in with the crowd, until we arrive at the “but” pivot point. It’s all downhill from that point as the consequences (the so what) of our actions sink in. Yes, choosing to keep silent is a deliberative act and there is a price to be paid. In fact there are six prices, or consequences, as you well state. Silence is an option but should be the last option.

  4. Terrific article, Carolien! Being courageous and self aware are not always easy. Too often, I think, we sit back and hope something changes without having the candor of looking ourselves in the mirror.

  5. Steve, thanks for your thoughts. They remind me of the principle that nothing much changes until I change. You are a great example in this area.

    Wyn, I appreciate your emphasis on the fact that the choice of silence is a deliberate act, even though we often go to great lengths to rationalize and to convince ourselves otherwise.

    Hoping to blog-talk with both of you again soon, Carolien