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 twenty-three-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as the executive vice president of thought leadership. Scott hosts multiple podcasts including FranklinCovey On Leadership and Great Life, Great Career. Additionally, Scott is a co-author of The Wall Street Journal bestselling book, Everyone Deserves A Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices For Leading A Team. He is also the author of the multiweek Amazon #1 New Release, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow. Scott writes a weekly leadership column for and is a frequent contributor to Thrive Global. Previously, Scott worked for the Disney Development Company and grew up in Central Florida. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

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