Espresso Shorts: Speak Up!

By David Wee|01-02-2021 | 3 Min Read
If you don't speak up, everything will stay the same.

Speak Up: Part 1

I never worry too much about speaking up. I am not talking about being rude or loutish but just sharing what's on my mind because I believe it will help others to hear it. 

Some caution that I will get into trouble. But for me having to keep my mouth shut is more fearful than the consequences of trouble.

So when I see something wrong:

  • a bully with a big title,
  • a lazy employee who gets away with being lazy,
  • a customer that screams at employees,

I speak up.

Speaking up has put me in a corner especially when I lose perspective or let my emotions get the better of me. I feel shame when that happens. But speaking up is also valued when I give my best advice, not say what others want to hear. Others know I will do what's right and not what furthers my interest.

I want to learn, grow and yes change for the better.

But there are some things I like just the way it is, and that includes speaking up because it's who I am.

Speak Up: Part 2

"The model will work."My manager promised. I disagreed. But why argue? I was new and it's her call. I just execute.

But keeping silent means breaking an implicit promise made the moment I accepted the job - be loyal to my boss. So I spoke up.

That day my boss found out I can be counted on to speak my mind. And I found out that my boss is a good listener. We both started earning trust and growing a relationship.

I am glad I spoke up.

Speak Up: Part 3

As in most things in life, practice does make you better and I had a lot of practice with speaking up. Here is what I learned.

  1. Speak up. But don't be a jerk about it or lose your cool.
  2. Pick your battles - sometimes peace is better than being right.
  3. When boss dismisses my point, I don't take it personally. If I think I am right, I keep coming back until: A. Boss agrees and changes the decision. B. I agree boss is right and move on; or C. No decision, then I do what I think is right.
  4. When is the worst time to tell boss s/he is wrong? When it's too late to change the decision!
  5. Where is a bad place to tell boss s/he is wrong? In front of everyone.
  6. What is a silly way to tell boss s/he is wrong? Timidly and without data, coherence and confidence.
  7. And the worst way of telling boss s/he is wrong? "I told you so."

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David Wee is a Board Advisory Member for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the National University of Singapore and has served in many different positions of management over the years. He defines success as if he is a ten-year-old whose sole responsibility was to make the world a better place for him and those he cares about.
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