Trylon Communications  - September 2003

Silence Is Deadly

In a book whose theme is closely related to that of the Great Expectations article, Leslie Perlow of the Harvard Business School writes about the tendency in business to keep quiet despite reservations about a business plan or goal. Is silence killing your company?

Perlow’s book (When You Say Yes but Mean No: How Silencing Conflict Wrecks Relationships and Companies... and What You Can Do About It, Crown Publishing) provides several examples of employees unwilling to speak up in the face of poor judgment or practices. A corporate culture that instills strict obedience without the opportunity to dissent or question can provide a foundation for failure.

This issue relates directly to your communications program – both internal and external. If you are unwilling to listen to voices of doubt from within, what will happen when you are questioned from outside media?

Businesses that foster a sense of responsibility and teamwork across all levels promote a communication culture that welcomes both positive and negative feedback. This kind of culture is key to a company moving forward while minimizing missteps along the way.

Similarly, companies that solicit and actually listen to advice from outside partners (the outside view in the previous article) - whether from legal, accounting, or public relations firms - can gain valuable objective insight that can minimize future problems and costly repairs.