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MCLEOD: Is silencing your truth noble or just plain selfish?

You know who they are. They're the Type A's who storm their way through life assuming that their opinion is the only one that counts.

Whether they're dominating the boardroom, the family dinner table or the church finance meeting, their truth, as they see it, takes precedent, and heaven help anyone who stands in their way.

There's no point even trying to tell them anything different, they'll just ignore you. And forget getting them to change their minds. It doesn't matter how much expertise you have or how important the project is, they're going to do things the way they want, so you're better off just keeping quiet.

Who wants to risk an argument or a conflict with someone who seems so sure of themselves?

I've observed this dynamic in hundreds of organizations, large and small. The Type A's dominate and the Type B's stay quiet. Meanwhile, our families and companies never get the full value of true collaboration.

It's easy to blame the Type A's. But as a hard-charging, stubborn, opinionated person myself, I feel obligated to take up for my own kind.

Yes, we do take charge, but we wouldn't do it if you didn't let us.

Some people may be true jerks, but most of us dominators aren't trying to intentionally trounce on your feelings or opinions. It's just that it never dawns on us that you might feel strongly about something and not be able to speak up about it.

I'm not trying to make excuses, but it's hard to imagine a reality you haven't experienced.

If you're a Type A, the only time you're really quiet about things is when you don't care. So when others don't make their opinions known, we assume that the subject at hand isn't very important to them.

This might sound strange to someone who struggles with voicing their opinions, but to us, silence doesn't feel like support, it feels like disengagement, and it can hurt.

As a Type A, I have continually remind myself, it's just as hard for some people to speak up, as it is for me to shut up.

One of the topics I address in "The Triangle of Truth" is how to hold a space for other perspectives. It's something many of us struggle with and I spend a lot of time teaching this skill in my seminars.

However, there's a flip side. The person who isn't willing to risk putting forth their opinions may think they're subduing their needs for the sake of harmony. But they're actually doing just as much harm to their organization as the people who dominate.

When you check out verbally, it's usually just a matter of time before you check mentally. And while it's easy to blame your disengagement on the type A's, we're all equally responsible for the success of our businesses and families.

If you have ideas, it's not really polite to withhold them. It's actually kind of fearful and, well, selfish. I know that sounds harsh, but would you want to be part of an company or family where people kept their best thoughts to themselves?

It can hard to speak your truths when us Type A's are plowing forward with our agenda. But we need you. We might not act like it, but we do.

Your truth plus my truth equals a new reality for us all. But the model only works if you're willing to bring your truth to the table.

Lisa Earle McLeod is a keynote speaker, consultant, and author of "The Triangle of Truth," who lives in Snellville. Sign up for her newsletter at www.TriangleofTruth.com.