Stop — collaborate and listen

Photo credit: Brandon Hillier
Photo credit: Brandon Hillier
Photo credit: Brandon Hillier

Some people have trouble speaking up and voicing their opinion in a work environment. I get it — it’s awkward to have to share your own personal views, especially when it means criticizing a colleague and friend. At The Peak, we’re a pretty tight-knit group, which often makes it harder to switch into “work mode” and engage in the kind of real talk needed to get through production days.

I have the opposite problem. I just can’t seem to shut up.

It wasn’t always this way. Those at The Peak who knew me when I was a wide-eyed, fresh faced contributor will remember the pale, lanky kid who’d stay tight-lipped during collective meetings and whose correspondence would be strictly limited to emails and Facebook messages. Eventually, I came out of my shell and gained confidence in my ideas and opinions — something I still feel is crucial in an environment where everyone is learning and where making mistakes is encouraged.

The problem is that, somewhere along the way, I overshot my mark. Occasionally voicing my opinions led to dominating the conversation. Mustering the courage to voice difficult opinions led to overstuffed compliment sandwiches.

Often, I have to stop and check myself — or rely on others to do so for me — before I shove my foot too deeply into my own perpetually open mouth.

As much as I’m proud of the self-assuredness that my time at The Peak has given me, I’ve realised how much I’m missing by not taking the time to listen to others. Not everyone is as much of a motormouth as me, but that doesn’t make their ideas any less valuable — in fact, given that these people rarely get a chance to express themselves as fully as I do, it’s even more important for me to shove a figurative sock in it and pay attention to what others have to say.

Not everyone is as much of a motormouth as me, but that doesn’t make their ideas any less valuable.

Gradually dipping my toes into the Editor-in-Chief pool — where I will be swimming breaststrokes come this summer — has made me even more aware of my lopsided talking-to-listening ratio. It’s taken me a long time to think of myself as a real leader, and one of the biggest turning points has been realizing that I’m not the only person in the room with good ideas and strong opinions.

I’m still learning and constantly reminding myself of this, but I like to think that I become a little less of a loudmouth jerk as the weeks go by.

The Peak is and will always be a team effort, and not everyone expresses themselves the same way. I’d hate to think that we’re missing out on good ideas because people can’t get a word in edgewise, and I know that we wouldn’t be as strong a paper as we are today without the input of each and every one of our team members.

With all this in mind, I’ll keep it short and sweet. If you’re like me, do the adult thing and leave your ego at the door. Listen to others, and really listen — don’t just wait for your turn to talk. You’d be surprised how much everyone else has to say if you just give them the chance. I sure have been.