The Opposite of Timid isn’t Shouting

by | Aug 3, 2019 | Change

“We shouldn’t be timid…”

Timid is a word that is not often used anymore. When it is used, we tend to use it about someone who does not speak up or out much. “He was too timid to ask for what he wanted.” And so the opposite of timid or not timid becomes speaking out.

And yet the meaning of timid tends to be articulated as ‘showing lack of courage or confidence.’ So perhaps I don’t need to speak out to not be timid. Perhaps we often mistake introversion and holding the space for others to be heard as timidity. Perhaps I can be quietly confident in what I believe inviting different perspectives instead.

Being confident in what you believe, feel, understand without the need to continually tell people about it or ‘win’ people to your side is not timidity, it’s the opposite. It takes confidence and courage to invite other views into the discussion, views that you may not be familiar or comfortable with, but if they are perspectives held by others in the group, they are just as valid.

Change projects are often actually trust projects and trust is never about sameness; it’s about difference held together with respect of the other. Be clear about who you are and your perspective, be confident in it as it is where your life experience has brought you. But also be open to the stories and views of others. Through the sharing and listening of stories, trust is built.

If being inclusive and listening to the perspectives of others about issues teams are going through or how people are being affected by change is timid, then we all should be timid when we lead change.

Photo by Zdeněk Macháček

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