What do I mean by this question?
- Are you physically exercising your voice enough in this time of reduced conversation and distancing?
- Are you refraining from speaking up about things you believe in and/or want to change at work or in civic life?
The first is more straightforward. Despite the many Zoom meetings many of us are attending, it’s likely we are not physically exercising our voices as much as had been normal. Those online meetings tend to be much more structured, with less spontaneous speaking up and opportunities to engage in unexpected conversations. No water-cooler conversations. No big in-person networking events. They’re pre-arranged and taking place online. We have to raise our hand (ours, or the electronic one) to speak. Disciplined, but energy-reducing.
I find some days, when I have few people around in person or virtually, my voice needs more physical exercise to stay strong and stay “normal.” As pretty much an extrovert, I love the opportunity to interact, so that’s a downside of pandemic restrictions, though I totally support the necessity for them.
On the second point, which can be more mindset and organizational culture-based, the solution, though perhaps theoretically simple, is more realistically difficult. My response when PurePoint International, in celebration of Cybersecurity Awareness Month (October), asked me to participate by answering “What does the PurePoint of safety & security mean to you?” follows.
The PurePoint of safety and security I champion is psychological safety. I strive to unite the many aspects of diversity under the umbrella of cross-generational inclusion and belonging. This is necessary for business sustainability and profitability and requires impactful discussion enabled by feeling secure in expressing one’s full self in thought and feeling.
Ask yourself if you are self-censoring. Are you or colleagues operating in an environment of fear of repercussions when you express what you think are constructive ideas and beliefs at meetings? Without trust and being in a non-threatening environment, people will withhold. And creativity, meaningful effort, innovation and leadership potential suffers.
We need to consciously build psychological safety for both curiosity and creativity and for reduction of harmful anxiety to result - and for needed change to occur in both professional and personal arenas.
Call to Action: Remember your vote is your voice, in the workplace and in a democracy. Every eligible voter has this power. Don’t neglect to use it, whatever way you choose to vote, and to encourage others. A civil and democratic society depends on it.