Magazine article Management Today

First Class Coach

Magazine article Management Today

First Class Coach

Article excerpt

I'm a yes man. In meetings, I always agree with my boss, never suggesting anything different or controversial. I'm terrified of confrontation. In a recent appraisal I was told that others see me as weak and ineffectual because of this, and it's apparently held me back over the years. How can I stop this without radically altering who I am?

There seem to be two parts to your conundrum: the question of whether you do in fact have differing views from your boss and others on what should be happening in your organisation, and the issue of whether you choose to express these views or not.

If you have unexpressed opinions, based on your experience and insight, you are holding back a valuable commodity from your company and it will be important for your own satisfaction and for the quality of your work that you find a way of expressing these views. It's also unlikely that your boss is always right, and having input from someone with a different point of view will help you all reach better decisions, through broader understanding.

Does your compliant stance carry over into your home life? Do you always agree with what your partner or friends want to do, even if it's not what you believe to be right? Possibly not: we can be highly capable in one part of our life but overwhelmed in another.

If you do speak your own mind outside work, it's worth capturing that mindset of how you feel and what you look and sound like when you offer a contrary opinion, and taking it with you mentally to your next big meeting so you can experiment with replicating it there. Even if at first you rehearse it only in your head (eg, 'I'd make this point now, if I was speaking my mind'), you will be readying yourself for the next chapter of your working life.

However, some people are tractable and avoid confrontation all their lives. This type of behaviour often stems from childhood and may have had self-preservatory origins - being 'good' is the safest way to be.

If this is the case, it could be time to reconsider whether this behaviour is as useful to you now as it may once have been. Deepak Chopra has christened this phenomenon 'premature cognitive commitment', the adoption of beliefs or behaviours at a young age without examination, a sort of pre-conditioning that we may need to question as our lives unfold and our needs and aspirations change. …

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