“I’ll take silence as acceptance.”
You know, I counted this past week how many times I heard this phrase on conference calls. Care to take a guess how many times it was said? Once? Twice? Five times?
Nope. Sixteen times. Sixteen times in actually only three days!
Am I the only one bothered by this?
It’s probably the fact that when Jane Doe on the conference bridge is stating this, I’m often thinking that Person X on the call is likely not pleased and will no doubt do one of the following as a result:
- Blatantly ignore whatever was said or suggested (this was actually a big issue for me professionally when managing some International colleagues, but that topic really deserves its own post!).
- Immediately type an email to their boss complaining or disagreeing with whatever it was.
- Miss the deadline.
- Complete poor quality work in support of the project or task.
I’ve been on the receiving end of each of these repercussions, and I can tell you that as a manager or project leader, I was not pleased. Especially when you consider the fact that conference calls and meetings are supposed to be the place to air out issues and concerns.
You might be thinking that perhaps some people are just quiet, and maybe it’s their fault that they aren’t speaking up. And while this is true to some extent, I believe we’re only hurting ourselves when we don’t try to manage this reality in a more effective way.
Instead of saying “I’ll take silence as agreement”, next time try one of the following if you want constructive feedback or input:
- What issues do you see with this?
- Bob, I noticed you’ve been a bit quiet, what are your thoughts?
- What else should we consider about this before moving on?
- What haven’t we talked about?
- What risks might we not have identified?
I’m sure there are countless other things you could say to open up the group, those are just some of the ones I’ve used. What have you tried?
by Channon C.