Silence Is Not Agreement

10 09 2009

I Want My Money Back

Have you ever bought something from an infomercial and found out a month later that, you not only bought the item, but that you also bought a $39.99 membership that you never wanted? Well, these folks are using the awful tatic of opt out which enables them to sign you up as long as you don’t speak up and say no. It’s a terrible pratice and getting out is not an easy feat. Many times you are bounced around from person to person or told you need to put it in writing. What! Put it in writing, I didn’t have to put it in writing to get in, why do you need to put it in writing to get out. “That’s our policy sir”, says the rep on the other end of the phone.

So Quiet In Here

Now, have you ever called for a decision and drew silence from your audience? Of course you have. The question is what did you do with that response. Your action at a time like this is important. You are the decision maker and you have the power and you have voiced your opinion and know what you want to do, so you could pull the “silence is agreement” card, which essentially signs the team up for whatever decision you make without really having their input and buy-in. Sounds like the opt out tactic, does it not. At first it doesn’t seem like a big deal, because no one spoke up, You hold the decision card and are simply exercising your right, right? Well, just like when we receive that extra package attached to the infomerciap item we bought and we are upset and raising cain to get our money back, your team members will come calling sometime in the future when the decision takes a bad turn. They will let you know they want off the ride that they never signed up for in the first place. You will find yourself giving back the trust and influence currency you used when you opted them in to your decision.

Silence is a Clue

Silence is not agreement, it is a clue that somethings not right. If no one is speaking up, they may not agree or may be missing information. Many times your audience is silent because you haven’t exposed the team to the information far enough in advance to give them time to think it through. To set the stage for quick decisions, have a briefing with key stakeholders before the decision and get a feel for their potential response. If you can, get their commit before the group session. After the briefings, you will have a feel for the direction the team wants to take and will have significantly reduced the likelihood of drawing silence in decision meetings.

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