CEO Blog

Speak Up!

Published on July 20, 2015 Back to the trenches
Frustrated Parent and Child

My kids are generally excellent travelers. However, on our recent family trip to Thailand, they had their moments. In particular, there were a few occasions when my 11-year old daughter, Julia, “got in a mood” and only after much prodding was I able to discover what was upsetting her and address the problem. (Most often, it was either something that her “very annoying” little brother did, or something I said.)

I kept asking her to speak up when she got upset. But, for some reason, it was very difficult for her to do so. It was easier to just hold it in and let the anger boil. However, this only caused the problem to get worse – for all of us.

As I witnessed this over and over again, I thought how common this behavior is with adults. We have a tendency to not speak up when something goes wrong. We let our frustration take over, and the situation inevitably gets worse. Instead of giving feedback that could help the other person (or business) improve, we often just let the problem linger until the relationship becomes unbearable – or deteriorates to nothing. 

How can someone know if they are doing something wrong if the other person doesn’t speak up? In most cases, such actions are not intentional – unclear expectations, simple oversights and, most often, poor communication are the root of the problem. The person was 10 minutes late to the meeting. The work they presented wasn’t exactly what you expected. The food wasn’t cooked as you’d have liked it. 

Only when you speak up will things improve – you’ll better understand why something happened, and the other person can address the issue and help prevent it from happening again. For example, while I believe that teasing Julia is a sign of affection, I learned that she finds it very upsetting. (I’ve since shifted my teasing skills toward her little brother who appreciates the humor slightly more.) 

So, next time a poorly cooked meal in a restaurant compels you to write a bad review and never return, say something to the server or chef. You’ll likely find yourself with a great meal (and probably some free drinks and dessert too). Or, instead of saying “no problem” when the person arrives late to the meeting, tell them the truth and they will likely not do it again. And, please, if I or anyone at Small Army ever does anything to cause you upset, speak up – we cannot improve upon that which we do not know needs improving. (That was me speaking up. Now, it’s your turn.)

Thanks and have a great day!