Shut Up & Drive!

I am bleeding, Farida screamed amidst tears at about 2am, waking up her husband who was yet to fully grasp the full situation as he rubbed on his eyes repeatedly till he noticed the blood on her hands. Suddenly jolted to reality, what happened? Before waiting for her to answer, with no particular plan as she was looking faint, he carried her and headed for the door. Haaa! No! God! He shouted as he rushed out.

Totally exhausted, his hair disheveled with dark circles beneath his red eyes, he walked hesitantly towards his Bosses gate, waiting to study his state of mind before approaching. Taking a deep breath, he ventures forward, rehearsing his words under his breath, strongly hoping his request for the day off will be granted.

‘Kudus, are you getting in that car or you want to go straight out of my house to look for another job’? His Boss said visibly angered by the entire situation.

‘Es sir’, Kudus began to say…

Shut up, get in the car and drive. How dare you show up to work this late? I am 30 minutes late already. Idiot!’ he added totally irritated. As they got into the car, Kudus turned on the car’s ignition, waited a while and attempted the conversation again.

‘Es sir, I just want to….’

‘Shut up and drive!’ His boss retorted, cutting short his sentence. Kudus shrugged his shoulders and 30 minutes later they were at a hospital close to the venue they were headed, with his boss bleeding profusely. For a brief moment he tried to play back the last few minutes before the accident. How he ought to have accelerated and ended up pressing the brake forcefully. Arrgh!, he reacted to sharp pain in his head, realised he could no longer see the faces around him clearly, thought of Fari, his baby and the other people affected by his mistake, wishing he had taken the day off. It all went black as he slipped into an unconscious state thereafter.

The culture of silence or being silenced is prevalent in many organisations. A recent Harvard University study demonstrated people’s propensity for silence by asking participants what they would do if someone cut in front of them in line. Most said they’d quickly and politely tell the person to step aside. But when researchers tested that prediction by actually cutting in front of people in line at the mall, they found the line-cutting victims most frequently expressed their discontent by giving dirty looks to the line cutter or complaining to their neighbour behind. Only one in 25 actually said something to the line-cutting offender.

What this means is many people in reality will not address the issues that threaten their peace or make them uncomfortable on a job and the few who do are given the “shut up and drive” feedback by their leaders in several organisations. Common issues like ambiguity of role specifications, difficulty on the job, unpleasant and overbearing bosses, etc are prevalent and often left unaddressed hence birthing staff who are disengaged, robotic and mechanical and the absence of creativity or innovation.

It’s never too late to change a toxic culture. Its best to begin today before it costs the organisation more than anticipated. Can we begin to encourage and practice healthy and beneficial communication at work places because in the long run it births more efficiency and productivity…Everyone is happier!

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