There Are No River Islands: Being ‘Over-Neutral’ at workplace?

Yes, there are only two choices – either you can stay at the bank or cross the river, but there are no river islands to choose. In a world where sophistication is often confused with being a  non-extremist, it is important that we start taking stands – firmly. The glass is either half full or half empty, there is no answer like ‘to some it may be half full or empty, I wouldn’t really make a choice”.  To each one of us the glass could either be half full or half empty, those who refrain from answering, simply do not have the courage to take a stand or are too lazy to have analysed in depth a situation. In one of her newspaper articles, Arundhati Roy also mentioned that it is high time we start taking sides.

At a B-School, there come people with work experience and without it. There are few who like to raise their hand and give out an opinion which is sometimes correct, sometimes not. But what’s more dangerous is the habit of certain people to stay more neutral than needed. Is it a safe way at work? Or is it a clear show of diffidence to the people you’ll work with? Or rather it is a means of covering up for lack of depth in thought and analytical skill? This article explores a strikingly new trend at B-schools, which is omnipresent yet not so easy to observe. I advocate rational dissection of everyday situations, an in depth analysis of pros and cons and a habit of taking a side. You’ll not be appreciated after all, if at your company you suggest we may or may not do this. Learn how to say with confidence – “We MUST do this, because….” or “We must NOT do this, it will be grave….because…”. Inculcate this as a work ethic – to avoid ‘over’- neutrality at workplace. Remember, leaders vouch for a cause, they are either against or for it. This article voices against ‘over-neutrality’ and not against staying neutral sometimes when the need be.

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To take a stand, is to sort out your own self, within each person there is a conscience screaming and scared of world’s perceptions, they try to suppress it once, twice, thrice…until it becomes a habit and that voice of conscience almost becomes feeble. Take an example, you are in middle of a fight between two friends, both of them are wrong in certain things, what would you choose – to point out each one’s follies, or point out where each one of them is correct or simply turn passive and say, ‘please don’t involve me in this’. Any method of reaction except the first one is a clear indication, unintentionally or intentionally, you escape taking a stand or pointing out what you think is wrong. Violence can either be correct or wrong according to a person, there is no stand like ‘I can’t comment, I have been lucky enough to have not encountered it in my life’. There is either an acceptance or a rejection within each one of us for most things in life, but there is an increasing trend of refraining from voicing our opinions is alarming. This habit before it becomes incorrigible must be checked, for which it is first essential to look at why people take to ‘I am neutral’ stand:

  • Conditioning: From an early age children today are taught to display a degree of decency by not voicing extreme opinions, this teaching unknowingly gets translated into don’t get yourself into trouble by taking stands, “stay neutral, stay safe”.
  • Apathy: Some who do not feel for the cause concerned usually take no stands and are apathetic. Apathy is dangerous – for individuals, for families, for nations, for the world. We surely do not want to see people apathetic to a dying man in a road accident. Apathy means – ‘Sad. God bless. Hopefully ambulance will arrive soon, someone might have called. I am not in for any trouble and police interrogation”. Dangerous isn’t it?
  • Fear: “What will everyone say if I get in middle of a class discussion and voice my opinion against a friend or a classmate with a strong reputation or standing?”, “If I take a stand, I may be perceived too bourgeois by my boss, endangers my promotion due next month”. For how long can we all strangulate our consciences and not be our own selves? Are these fears even justified? Truth and purity belongs to those with moral fibre and voicing needs fortitude, which is not a trait of commons. So next time when you think staying mum means getting for yourself a decent image, remind yourself that your conscience calls you rather coward. 
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The way out: It is simple, build a boat and cross the river or stay at the bank, none of these choices is wrong, it is just about being true to no one BUT to your own self. What goes to heaven with you is not a count of how many people you pleased, but how many times did you swear by honesty. So next time when confronted with a dilemma – should I or shouldn’t I, be brusque, be yourself. The satisfaction that will ensue will give you not only a peaceful night’s sleep but also a sense of being which doesn’t come from fake refinements, it comes from confrontation –  with the world and with your own fears that hold you back. The bottom line is, don’t fancy river islands, create your world either this side or that, the islands are bound to drowning in the very next flood.

One who can take a side and advocate it logically is bound to rise at his workplace and have a more peaceful personal life. Not sure about research, but experience corroborates this – often people with a strong footing and clarity of thought, soar higher than those who stop to please everyone and end up not making a difference to anyone and anything in the company.

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You will love reading: The World’s first flying car.  Must read article World in Turmoil

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There Are No River Islands: Being ‘Over-Neutral’ at workplace?

by Pragya Bang time to read: 5 min
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