“WHAT DO YOU THINK ?” IS A QUESTION that often pops up in our daily lives but the nature and quality of one’s response to the question at the workplace has many facets and is not always straightforward. Much depends on who is asking the question and the purpose for which the query is raised. The quality of the feedback also depends on one’s assessment of whether the response provided will be seriously considered by the questioner.
ALL OF THE ABOVE CONSIDERATIONS are, in a manner of speaking, largely irrelevant if we go about our jobs professionally and express our views honestly. While soliciting the opinion of his subordinates, the CEO of a company I know, often prefaced his queries with the remark ” I am going to take my own decision. I would still like to know what you feel about the issue.” On several occasions, the nagging suspicion that one’s views hardly count or will not be taken seriously prompts us to be defensive about our feedback and our responses become at best neutral and at worst half-hearted and lacking in substance. One also tends to wonder about the possible discomfort one’s response may cause and of the possible risks the response may carry in jeopardizing an otherwise excellent relationship. In harboring such doubts we are actually denying the persons taking decisions a possible alternate choice.
IN THE ABOVE CONTEXT WHEN expressing an opinion or a point of view it becomes extremely helpful when one also offers the underlying reasons for the particular stance taken. This automatically introduces the much needed element of transparency in decision making. Upon a question being thrown at us, it is not at all disrespectful, if the circumstances so warrant, to query the background, purpose and context of the question itself so that one’s response is a well-considered one. The tentative “not-sure-if-(s)he-will like it” approach will not only cramp our working style needlessly but also make us morally responsible for having withheld our honest view particularly if the said view contained elements, which if considered, could have avoided losses or damage.
ON THE OTHER HAND IF WE ARE completely ignorant of the issue we should admit it straightaway or at least ask for time to examine the matter thoroughly. If we are fully aware that something that is happening or about to happen is patently wrong, we should at least discharge our moral responsibility by expressing our strong disagreement or observations even if we are not empowered to control the conduct of the party raising the query.
THERE IS AN OLD SAYING WHICH STATES “suppression of truth, is suggestion of falsehood.” If we remain silent particularly when we have the capacity to change, we remain responsible for what may happen even if we may not have committed the particular act ourselves. On the other hand greatly positive changes can still occur simply because we consciously exercise our choice to speak.
LASTLY, IF WE ARE TRUE WELL-WISHERS of our colleagues, subordinates or superiors at work and indeed of the entity which employs us, we should feel emboldened to speak our minds as a conspiracy of silence would only be indicative of the fact that we do not give a damn about what happens.