Review: When to Speak Up and When to Shut Up

5 Star, Best Practices in Management, Consciousness & Social IQ, Democracy, Public Administration

5.0 out of 5 stars Christian Social IQ Book with Moral Foundation
July 7, 2010
Michael Sedler

This was a very intriguing book and I am going to have to read it more than once. I bought it thinking it was a social IQ book, kind of an intelligent person’s conversational etiquette. It is far more than that, very Christian but also very practical for anyone. If I were to give away two small books as traveling companions for anyone, this would be one, Leadership Lessons of Jesus: A Timeless Model for Today’s Leaders, which was sold in the Special Operations bookstores when LtGen Jerry Boykin was deputy for intelligence in the Pentagon, see his biography, Never Surrender: A Soldier’s Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom.

Where this book impacted on me to the extent any book can influence the habits of a 57-year old, was in really making crystal clear the value of questions instead of statements as a conversational contribution. I kept thinking Socratic, and also thinking of my colleagues in the war colleges who must learn to teach future generals who do not want to be told anything, but can be challenged to think more broadly.

The author distinguishes between questioning (bad) and asking questions (good), and this I noted down:

1. Persisting
2. Complaining
3. Challenging
4. Debating and disputing
5. Making accusations
6. Taking up an offensive

1. Prepare
2. Timing
3. Get to the point
4. Recognize authority
5. Ask for more information if not clear
6. Avoid becoming defensive
7. Avoid trying to justify self
8. Thank for time

Two quotes I especially liked:

“The enticement to be secretive, and to withhold information is a battle for many of us.”

“Dishonesty,trickery, deceit, lying–each may be justified in our own minds. We rationalize and develop our own sense of morality in order to protect ourselves. Unfortunately a web of deceit usually ends up creating more problems than originally existed.”

This book comes into my life at a time when I have been agonizing over the ineffectiveness of the US government model, in sharp contrast to the effectiveness of the Nordic model, and in the aftermath of reading three books that place enormous value on social capital, The Hidden Wealth of Nations; The Politics of Happiness: What Government Can Learn from the New Research on Well-Being; and Identity Economics: How Our Identities Shape Our Work, Wages, and Well-Being

The author itemizes a number of suggested “rules of thumb” for each of the major aspects (speaking up or keeping silent) and as tempted as I am to list them, recommend you buy the book instead. This is a keeper, and I am increasingly convinced that our entire educational system is totally mis-directed: we need to teach kids how to work together, learn to learn, etcetera, NOT how to do “dog eat dog” competitive “throating.”

A couple of books on education I recommend:
Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling
Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace
Why Don’t Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom
Unvaccinated, Homeschooled, and TV-Free: It’s Not Just for Fanatics and Zealots (Volume 1)

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