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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

When to Take the Mic, When to Pass it, and When to Drop it.

Taylor Berry

Taylor Berry

Taylor Berry

We’ve all been in a class or discussion where there is an awkward silence that drags on until one brave soul speaks up or the teacher decides to change the topic. After class, you may talk to your friends about how uncomfortable that silence was. However, maybe there needs to be discussions on why this silence seems so uncomfortable.

There are some topics that are easy to talk about: the latest song, sports event, or the party from the past weekend. However, once the conversations turn to something that demand more than an “hmm” or “yeah” people suddenly become  hesitant to converse with one another. There will always be people who are more willing to speak openly about their opinions.  However, it is the voices of the quieter people that need to be heard as well. Whether it is the shy person in the back of the room or the loud person in the front, both voices are equally important. Providing a platform for discussion is crucial but providing a space for everyone to really be heard is equally as important.

When do you speak up and when do you sit back and let others share their opinions?  I have always believed that in order to be a good leader or to help create positive change, an individual must be able to listen to the opinions of others. This has been something that I’ve attempted to focus on by taking a step back and considering the other’s views and opinions during a conversation.  This allows me to develop a more accurate image of situations. Another interesting point I agree with is this idea that people who are constantly talking may have great points, but at times, the most powerful voices come from the few words of the brave. Perhaps, in these situations, it is the strong, sure voices that have to take a step back and allow for the other people, whose voices may shake, to speak. So my challenge for you, the reader, is to: 1) grow comfortable/reflect on the reasons behind why moments of silence may be uncomfortable, and attempt to understand the root of this feeling; 2) if expressing your opinion comes naturally to you, try taking a moment to allow people who have not yet contributed to the conversation to voice their opinions and speak up; 3) understand when and where your voice is the most powerful and the best ways for others to receive your message; 4) acknowledge that at times, listening is just as powerful as speaking.

Oct 27, 2017

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