THE BLOG

Speaking Out: When Did We Lose The Confidence To Raise Our Hands?

25/11/2016 13:05

When I was first asked to write this blog I went through a number of emotions. They ranged from insecurity (what do I have to say that's important enough?) to self doubt (what if the things I say are wrong?) to fear (what if people disagree with me?)

So I politely said thank you very much for the opportunity but could I maybe have a think about it aka - stalling.

And then two things happened.

The first was that two young women at the agency I work for came to me with an idea for their client. They had worked really hard to understand the client's problem and had gone above and beyond to do the work needed to get clarity and proof on their point of view.

I sat with them and pushed them on being clear about what their position was, encouraged them to be bold and brave enough to say it out loud. To be confident enough to (*whisper it*) have an idea.

It was a good piece of work backed by an insightful idea, and yet they were reticent to take it to the client.

They told me that they didn't feel they had the 'right' to say this. That actually, having ideas is somebody else's job, so the client might be unwilling to hear theirs.

But with quite a bit of encouragement and support, they stood up in a meeting and delivered it.

The client in this instance was wonderful - the kind of client I wish everybody has the chance to work with. They didn't buy the idea, but loved the work, bought the thinking and just challenged the execution. We had a wonderful debate and got clarity on what they would buy.

But not everybody in the room was so supportive. There were bruised egos and belittling comments that reeked of contempt. Unfortunately, these came from people who are older, supposedly wiser and who certainly should know better.

Rather than supporting and encouraging young people of our industry to be brave and have an opinion, they took the opportunity to demonstrate their own knowledge (which was superior), to pick holes in the work (which was imperfect as first drafts often are) and to exude the arrogance of position to squash any creative spirit in those deemed 'not worthy'.

And I got angry.

The second thing that happened was that my daughter bought home her school report. She is 6, so there were a lot of comments about her pen holding ability, her kindness to others in the playground and her phonics development. But the most brilliant comment of all was that "Eadie is not afraid to tell me her opinion. She will always raise her hand and engage in the debate without worrying about being right".

And that made me so proud.

And pride combined with anger means that I could no longer stall about writing this blog and more to come, and speaking my truth.

Because somewhere between being 6 and being in work, the license to raise your hand and have an opinion without fear of judgement has been lost.

I'm still not always sure what point I'll deliver, I'm totally convinced I won't always be right, and the fear of judgment and criticism is still very real (the comments box can be a scary place!)

But I am older and wiser and I couldn't give a monkeys what people think of me.

And also, I can't encourage younger talent to raise their hand, have a point of view or (*whisper it*) have an idea if I can't find the gall to do the same.

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