The experience happened during our second meeting for Operations Management class when we were asked to analyse a case study in groups then present an output. I joined a group of managers who have very strong personalities and the discussion became highly technical.
Confronted with this unfamiliar situation, I kept quiet and observed. I listened to everyone’s points but said nothing significant until the discussion ended. I also did not sound confident when I gave my short comments.
I felt indifferent and I found it difficult to throw myself “out there”. When I noticed that I still could not get the topic despite listening, I panicked and lost focus. I was struggling for words, stuck in constructing the “right” questions and “correct” statements. Suddenly I did not know how to say what I wanted to say.
When we finished, I thought I have not really spoken. When the pressure in my head was gone, I realized that I actually understood everything. I regretted that I let an opportunity to develop my leadership to lapse and decided to examine what prevented me from expressing my ideas and from giving impact to my presence.
Reflections on the situation
Previous feedbacks grassed that I have strong attention to details. I get things accurately after observing. However, awareness of this ability caused me to be too conscious and cautious that I feared “errors”, thus, sacrificing spontaneity. Avoiding making mistakes, I ended up holding my thoughts to myself. I have unconsciously been more concerned about what others think of me than the real goal of getting my ideas across to shape our output.
After I observed and found it challenging to fully grasp the discussion, I got stuck and I lost confidence. Worse, I felt I channelled this to my team. Their lack of interest in my few comments increased my self-doubt so I took comfort in being silent until the session was over. I thought it was the easiest thing to do at that moment, although it was not...