She encourages people who feel morally violated by colleagues or companies to speak up using tips from her book, Giving Voice To Values: How To Speak Your Mind When You Know What’s Right.
Well, that’s all fine and good, but what if you’re a junior level person and the person who’s affronted you is the CEO? Gentile doesn’t think major gaps in the corporate ladder should keep you from piping up.
“People who are very junior feel they aren’t in the position of power and authority to speak up. Funny enough, people who are more senior say if they were lower in an organisation with less at stake, then they’d be more likely to say what’s on their mind. People in the middle of the corporate ladder get squeezed on both sides of that.”
The bottom line? Everyone makes excuses to stay quiet. But in Gentile’s research, she’s found people at all levels of corporations that have successful voiced their values.
“If you’re a junior person, try asking questions, but not in an accusing way. Don’t go to a judgmental place. People always envision these impassioned speeches, but it doesn’t have to be like that,” Gentile insists. “The most effective people are more pragmatic; they think about what’s at stake for the person on the receiving end and phrase it as a problem they can jointly solve. Think of your goal as starting a process rather than villainizing your colleague.
Now turn the tables. What if you’re the CEO getting confronted about a decision you made at work? What’s the best way to react?
“The ideal situation,” Gentile says, “would be to listen and not be defensive. Present yourself as committed to learning, and open yourself to understanding when you make a mistake. Share a time when you were wrong and embrace your error.”
Thinking out loud about how to solve the issue can also be very helpful. It shows the other person that you care about finding an ethical solution and are considering what is important to all those involved.
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