dankim.org

Don’t overlook the quiet voices and contributions

2016-12-03


A few years ago I worked at a mega corporation. I had just finished up a brutal week of all-day meetings with 20 people. My boss and I sat down to catch up. Eventually, she warned:

“Dan, you need to speak up more. You need to participate and contribute during these meetings.”

I was livid.

She felt that others had “contributed” far more than me.

It didn’t matter that people were talking just for the sake of it — repeating things that were already said and adding no value. It didn’t matter that very little was accomplished from all that talking. It didn’t matter that the week was a huge waste of time. It only mattered that people were speaking loudly and frequently.

All of my quiet contributions — selectively speaking, listening, thinking, writing, leading small group discussions — were being completely ignored.

Suffice to say, I didn’t last very long at that company.

But the sad part is that given the right environment, I could have. I had plenty of energy, ideas, and good work in me. But because I wasn’t always a loud voice, all of it was being overlooked.


If you’re a leader in a company, it’s important to keep your eyes and ears open for all types of contributions. The quiet members of your team have a wealth of insights everyone can benefit from.

While it’s easy to hear the loud voices, they might be drowning out the quiet ones. To tap into the potential of those quiet voices, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

I really believe in quiet voices. They’ve taught me the most and positively influenced my career — far more than the big talkers.

I hope you’ll give them a chance.