We Speak Up

This one is two protocols rolled into one. They go together like Beyonce and Jay-Z. We Ask Questions + We Speak our Mind = We Speak Up

Scott avatar
Written by Scott
Updated over a week ago


If you’re not asking questions, you are not going to get very far in your career; or life. You’re being assumptive, and you’re not taking ownership of your own journey. Asking questions isn’t just about finding things out; it’s also about helping others to understand where your head’s at and how you understand things.

Being willing to ask “dumb” questions is, ironically, one of the smartest things you can do. Learning the basics of a field or craft is often where people get stuck, but being willing to ask the basics helps you build a foundation for the advanced parts of a skill,” - Allen Gannett, author of The Creative Curve.

The power of asking questions in both your work and personal life cannot be understated and impacts almost every area of our lives and our careers.

If you are working on something and can’t answer all of these questions... STOP. Write these questions on a sticky note, put them on your monitor, go ask them and repeat them every time you don’t know the purpose of your work. You still with this simple habit and BOOM, you just changed your life.

  1. What to do?

  2. Why you are doing it?

  3. How to do it?

  4. What's the desired outcome?

Some reasons we fail to ask questions

  • Laziness. Assume they know all the things they need to know and they do not bother to ask more. They cling to their beliefs and remain certain in their assumptions – yet they often end up looking foolish.

  • Fear. Afraid that by asking questions they will look weak, ignorant, or unsure. They like to give the impression that they are decisive and in command of the relevant issues. They fear that asking questions might introduce uncertainty or show them in a poor light. In fact, asking questions is a sign of strength and intelligence – not a sign of weakness or uncertainty. Great leaders constantly ask questions and are well aware that they do not have all the answers.

  • Hurry. Finally, some people are in such a hurry to get to things that they do not stop to ask questions because it might slow them down. They risk rushing headlong into the wrong actions.



  • Listening to the answer.

  • A tool needed to do your job.

  • A crucial skill that takes a lot of practice to be good at.

  • Being curious, putting in the effort to understand, and not depending on someone else to gift you all that you need to be successful.

  • Asking questions with the intention of getting answers, and asking follow-up questions if you didn’t get what you needed with the first answer

  • Interrupting someone to ask a question if you’re lost.

  • Asking questions without a purpose, just so that it seems like you’re participating in the conversation. There is such thing as a dumb question and it’s these.

  • Trying to trick someone into giving you leverage.

  • Expecting to get an answer the first time you ask.

  • Waiting for someone to provide you with the information you need to achieve your outcomes.

  • Assuming that if someone didn’t answer your question, they had a good reason.

  • Asking questions of people who are not the source of truth, especially if you’re asking them because they’re less intimidating than the person that is the source of truth.

  • A way to have a difficult conversation without having to bring up any of the tough feedback yourself.


First off, nobody else can do it for you. So if you don’t, you're fucked.

Are you one to sit back quietly? You may be hurting yourself and others. Here are five good reasons to speak your mind loudly and often.

Other people would love to hear what you are thinking, especially if it relates to work. If for some reason they don’t, they suck, so speak it anyway, just keep it a little more to the point. If you’re not saying what you think, you’re missing out on giving someone an opportunity to benefit from your unique perspective or help better calibrate you to theirs.

Speaking your mind also gives people another perspective on their situation. Whether people are doing great, or need to improve, we should take it upon yourselves to call them out so they know where they’re standing.



  • Communicating truthfully and directly.

  • Speaking up even when it’s uncomfortable or makes you feel like your questions make you seem ignorant or uninformed.

  • Having conversations with the RIGHT PERSON, not the comfortable person. Identify the person most impacted by your work, and who owns the outcome of the project you’re working on.

  • Blurting out everything that comes to mind

  • Not speaking up because you’re afraid of the consequences

  • Putting more effort into being polite than into being a clear communicator

Here are 5 Reasons that you SHOULD Speak up, even if you think you shouldn’t

  1. Silence = Approval

    Staying quiet might seem neutral, but it’s not. It’s as active a form of communication as talking. By saying nothing, you’re saying that you agree with whatever’s being said, and approve of it. Keeping quiet does not make you seem easygoing, it makes you complicit in any bad decisions that are being made while you stay quiet and can destroy trust and create resentment.

  2. The Greater Good Should be the Priority

    It’s selfish to put your comfort above the needs of others. If the team is headed down a bad path, your silence can cause harm. Others might disagree with your point of view, but the responsible thing to do is to speak up so that the point of view is out there.

  3. Demonstrate you are Invested

    You were invited to the conversation for a reason. If you truly don’t have a stake in the outcome of the meeting, you should find something else to do with your time. If you DO have a stake, show your commitment to the process and people by speaking up.

  4. No one else may know

    People don’t automatically know your thoughts or recognize your skills, values, ambitions, and desires. If you wait for people to read your mind, you will likely end up on a path you didn’t want. Projects you don’t want, missing out on promotions that you do want, or accepting work that you don’t have the time or ability to complete.

  5. You may not be alone in your thinking

    Other people might share your thought, but be too afraid to speak up. By speaking your mind, you’re opening the door for others to speak up.

Here's what our Engagement Managers define
"We Speak Up"

Radical Candor - How to Improve your in-person impromptu feedback

It’s a rare and precious thing to have a colleague who knows how to give praise and criticism in a way that’s challenging and caring at the same time. It doesn’t have to be as rare as it is though. Radical Candor can be learned.

Kim Scott will explain a simple tool that will help you to say what you really think in a way that helps you to build stronger relationships at work.

Did this answer your question?