Does Silence Equal Agreement?


I’ve heard the following refrain more frequently lately in the national political discourse: “If you’re silent, then you’re complicit.” Somewhat harsh – but I think it’s worth examining closer.

This statement implies a very high standard. If I’m silent on the advocacy of eliminating all plastic straws, then I’m personally complicit in polluting the ocean?

Or perhaps closer to home: If someone is gossiped about or disparaged in a meeting or conversation, and I happen to be in the room and I don’t speak up, does that mean I am in agreement?

I’m not sure I totally agree with the statement “If you’re silent, then you’re complicit,” but it’s forced some introspection on how often I act on those matters I personally care about.

Since my interview with Muriel Summers, I’ve reflected on her career passion for helping educate children. Muriel wasn’t silent on her “cause.” She tackled the issue within her sphere of influence, or what we call at FranklinCovey, her Circle of Influence. Her selfless dedication and perseverance in co-creating the Leader In Me school transformation initiative should inspire us all.

Muriel’s passion isn’t necessarily mine—at least not yet. But her results are certainly pushing me towards acting more courageously on my own causes.

I’ve made a list of passions I care about that up until now I’ve been too silent on. Consider doing the same—both in your personal life and as a leader, formal or informal, at work. Are there some areas where you could improve your culture if you were less silent?

Don’t leave the success of your first-level leaders, and your organization, to chance—download our complimentary guide today and help them make the mental leap to leader. 

About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is a 25-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as Senior Advisor, Thought Leadership. Scott hosts the world’s largest and fastest-growing podcast/newsletter devoted to leadership development, On Leadership. Additionally, Scott is the author of the multi-week Amazon #1 New Releases, Master Mentors: 30 Transformative Insights From Our Greatest Minds, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow, and the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

More Content by Scott Miller
Previous Article
Leadership Training Over The Years
Leadership Training Over The Years

Over the last 30 years, FranklinCovey’s point of view on leadership has evolved substantially. With leaders...

Next Article
Advice From The CEO
Advice From The CEO

When the CEO gives you advice, you listen. Which is exactly what Scott Miller did when FranklinCovey's CEO,...

6 Ways to Help Your Team Handle Stress During Times of Change

Download Guide