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When we share our recent research findings on what prevents employees from speaking up and sharing their best ideas, sometimes we get this reaction: “Oh, that’s not our issue. Our problem is these damn millennials can’t stop speaking up. They complain about everything.”
“And do you listen?” we ask.
“Some of the time, but after a while, you can only take so much.”
Which begs the question: and then what happens? After you’re tired and they’re ignored?
We imagine it’s only a matter of time until they stop trying, or leave. Like Laura, a fellow keynote speaker we met recently at a conference. She shared:
I’m so intrigued by this research you’re doing on FOSU (fear of speaking up) and the downstream consequences for employees and organizations. The truth is I’m one of those people. I had such a bad experience when I was 23, that I would never offer my opinion at work again.
I was just out of college and so eager to make an impact in my new role. I had tons of ideas and was always looking for ways to make things better. So I offered my opinion on EVERYTHING. Which as it turns out, was exhausting to everyone around me. I got fired and was completely devastated. After all, my heart was in the right place. I was gung ho. But, the truth is, I was committed, but clumsy.
Once I got back on my feet in a new job, I kept my head down, my mouth shut, and just did my job. I had this FOSU thing you talk about in a big way. And I was miserable.