Every Servant Leadership the group splits out into those who talk and those who don’t. At the end of the first scenario it becomes obvious who is who and we start to work with the impact of there being no space for the quiet one’s to speak.
Often I hear phrases like, “But if they wanted to speak they would, I do!” or the harsher (and yes, I did hear this), “I can’t be making time for people who can’t be bothered to speak up. They need to stop hiding and just speak up”.
For us introverts finding space in a conversation with strong, vocal people can be impossible, which is why the workshop focuses on bringing all the voices into the space because every perspective is valuable. The vocal people tend to not realise this and live from the assumption that they have the answer so if someone doesn’t speak they don’t know anything or are just wrong.
This is the story of one such quiet person who never said more than 5 things in 2 days. I watched as in the first scenario he said something, the group didn’t hear him and spoke over him and he stopped speaking. I also watched the group’s reaction when they saw what they had done. Everyone got quiet. He wasn’t the only super quiet person, his buddy started to share what it is like to be cut off and to feel like your voice doesn’t matter.
Even more impactful was the realisation that what he had said had actually been the key to getting the scenario right (they had hared off in totally the wrong direction). If they had listened they would have not wasted 60 minutes on the wrong thing.
The second scenario came and they clamour for whose idea is the best began, except one or two people were paying more attention. When he spoke his voice was almost lost but one person caught it and stopped the group to ask, “You wanted to say something ? ” He did and his observation changed the direction the group was taking.
This happened two more times in that and the subsequent scenario’s. I wasn’t prepared however for his final checkout. Now this is a strapping 20 something lad, who never spoke. When he checked out he was struggling for words, not because he didn’t have them, but because he was so emotional. He shared how he would never go back to who he was before he started the workshop because now he knew that his voice was also important. He had us all in tears.
Can you imagine living every day at work knowing that you have no value, that no-one wants to hear what you have to say ? This is what we inadvertently create every day and this is what shifts for everyone the quiet people and the vocal one’s. We learn to value every voice and no, it isn’t boring wasting time listening to everyone else speak (that is a story for another day).