Stand up speak up: Auntyji

According to Auntyji, sometimes staying silent can do more harm than saying everything that's on your mind.

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Hello Auntyji

I have lived in Australia for 15 years and have a really good job that I am happy with. Auntyji, I know I am smart, and I come up with good ideas and all my work colleagues respect me. But Auntyji, I generally don’t speak up in meetings because I worry about what people will think about what I say.

I would love to get a promotion this year, but at my last performance feedback session, my manager said that I need to learn to speak up more. But I feel that if someone has already said something in a meeting, why should I speak up. That would be just wasting time. I want to speak up when I have something of value to say. I worry that people will think I am not smart or that I have the wrong information if I say something. In fact, I often worry what people say about me, and what they think of me in meetings.

Don’t you think that it’s better to be silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it? Can you please give me some guidance so that I can get my promotion?


Auntyji says

Oh you crazy gulab jamun! You are not living in downtown Worli that people are sitting there looking at you, judging you because your sari is too yellow and wondering which grandparent you got that large nose and tiny eyes from. You are now living in Australia and working in a corporation. Let me give you a fundamental truth. Here, no one cares about what you think-ate-said-did-thought – and you know why? Because they are too busy thinking about themselves, and what they intend to say-do-eat-drink-think.

Really – people are so busy thinking about their own selves and their own life, that they will only spare you 60 secs or so of their attention, before they go back to thinking about themselves. You know how you’re obsessing about yourself and how you’re coming across to others – well that’s exactly what other people are doing too. So get out of that inflated sense of me-me-me and self-absorption and focus on how you can add value at work.

Now that psuedo-intelligence about not speaking up at work until you have something of value to add is yet another dumb idea that passes as faux awareness nowadays. Have you ever considered that leadership behaviours means that you can overtly support an idea that you like that someone has just expressed? Or what if you invited a quieter team member to share their perspective? What about recognising someone’s good work? There are many ways to have your voice heard – and if you want to succeed in corporate Australia, start by showing leadership behaviours by speaking up at work – and not sitting there like a timid little Kanchan from Worli who is afraid of her own shadow.

READ ALSO: Auntyji on Priyanka Chopra

The original Australian sub-continental agony aunt. Email: info@indianlink.com.au

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