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F*ck Fear – it’s THE barrier to make real change
Written by Matt Manners
3 minute read
On a significant global anniversary, I am not looking back but looking forward.
Everyone is afraid. Everywhere you turn, everyone is afraid of something. It is debilitating. It is stopping progress. It almost stopped me in my tracks one month ago.
People have a:
fear of making the wrong choice with their returning to the office (or not) strategy .
fear of saying the wrong thing (that might make them appear to be a racist/sexist/homophobe/bigot), whilst trying to actually enact positive inclusive change
fear of failure
even fear of being their true selves!
Whose responsibility is this? Does it just land on us individually to ante up and be less scared/fearful. In a word, NO!
But it does land on EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US to create an environment where we assume positive intent in ALL of those around us. Until proven otherwise.
Whilst we have seen such rapid acceleration in systemic work/social barriers/taboos being challenged and even broken, we have also seen a parallel and dangerous rise in the thought police internally and on social media. Those quick to judge and jump on a mistake. We are all prone to mistakes. It’s what makes us human.
It is witnessing this rush to judgement that, I believe, stops good people, doing good things.
It is instilling fear in those that wish (and are in a position to do so) but aren’t sure how to do it. Aren’t sure of what the right thing to say is. They are afraid of those people who should be their allies and their educators but who turn out to be judge and jury.
Paraphrasing Edmund Burke, evil wins when good people stay silent. It takes a huge amount of courage to drive change in the first place. Creating these workplaces of fear only breeds evil. Not progress or positive change. We want to give our employees a voice but only in a survey? To be faceless?
How will this grow in a remote work environment, where (like social media people) become more faceless, have less of a human connection with us? We are in this strange paradox where we have never had a greater opportunity to drive positive change around the world from within the workplace but it is at risk of being stifled by those that should assist it.
We need to assume positive intent at every turn. Most people are trying to do good. If they aren’t, we have measures in place. Policies to deal with them.
Be human. Pause and give people a chance to make mistakes, fail, change, acknowledge and grow. Assume positive intent and don’t write someone off instantly when:
someone is trying to roll out a new DEI strategy but makes a mistake/uses the wrong words
when your business rolls out a return to office strategy that isn’t exactly what you’d hoped for
makes an ill-judged comment
is different to you whether it be age, sex, race, language, background….
and on and on and on
The human race has never had a greater opportunity to really drive positive social change from within the workplace.
Let’s do it together and recognise we will do it in different ways.