In my book Conflict in the Workplace: Causes and Cures, I devote a whole chapter to The Tyranny of Pleasantness.
When people are afraid to speak out because they are seen as not a team player, or contrary, or some other bad thing, decisions are made that may not be the best. Remember, the camel is a horse designed by a committee. All too often, the one who sees it differently – and probably better – has been shut down so often in the past that he or she stays silent.
Would women have had the vote if a group of them didn’t speak out? Would the Civil Rights Movement have occurred if people weren’t willing to speak out? Could we have finally given gays some rights if they had reminded silent?
Would we have stopped the mutilation and the holocaust and the killing fields – if we had chosen to speak out earlier?
All that is necessary for evil to happen is for good men to remain silent.
And not just about good and evil – what about taking men who had been confined to wheel chairs because of spinal cord injuries and teaching them they could play basketball – what about helping to relieve the depression and hopelessness of quadriplegics by teaching them to write with their mouths – and to have gurney races down the corridor of their hospital? (P.S. The nurses hated me, but the Chief of Psychiatry gave me full rein.)
What about so many changes that come about because someone is willing to say, “let’s not do it the way we’ve always done it – let’s try something different.”?
Finally, what about all the innovations that come about because of “kooks”, “nerds”, “loose cannons”, curmudgeons and “dreamers” – who dare to try?