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The world needs your voice!

When you're leading a meeting and you ask an important question that no one answers, what goes through your head?

Do you take the silence as a sign of agreement from the room?

Do you assume no one has any ideas to offer?

Do you fill the space with your own words, instead?

After all, there's a reason it's called "awkward silence!"

What are the next questions you ask the room?

At times, when this has happened to me, I have rephrased the question to see if that will prompt some new thinking. That can help. When the silence isn't broken, though, I will leave the meeting wondering at least three things:

1) What can I do differently to encourage group members to speak up? (Often, my answer is, "Angela, if you want them to speak up, you'll need to shut up." Touché'. Always working on it.)

2) Do I need to engage individuals in 1-on-1 conversation about the issue?

3) By not having a group conversation about the issue, what are we missing out on?

This last one can haunt me. We need to hear more voices and have more perspectives in order to do our best work and create the most positive impact. If you're a leader who is haunted by your team's silence on important issues, how might you make yourself more silent, so there is more opportunity for the team to fill the void?

If you're a team member (and also a leader, by the way), when might you need to find the courage to speak up and add your valuable ideas, regardless of how they might be taken? It's true that you might get shot down. Even if you do, that response is helpful information as you navigate your next moves. However, you might discover that you're not so alone in your thoughts and ideas.

Your courage to speak up might encourage others to do the same. It might inspire the next brilliant direction for your team - and for your work.

Your team - and the world - needs your voice!

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