Communication Barriers: Name the Lame Excuse

Name the lame (and shameful) excuse.

SilenceHave you ever not spoken up and regretted it? Most of us have. Why did you hold your tongue? What are the communication barriers holding you back?


There are eight “lame” excuses people use to justify not speaking up when something needs to be said. As a bonus, there’s one “shameful” excuse. There are also some good reasons. It’s important for those who are committed to SpeakingSTRONG to know the difference between a reason and an excuse, and to address their excuses head on. Silence has its place in effective communicaton. But too many of us avoid taking a stand out of fear, avoidance or habit.

The first step of the SpeakSTRONG Method is to Seek significance. It involves stopping, seeing what is as is, and dropping old habits that don’t serve you. It’s important to get honest about our communication barriers.  Understanding your lame excuses helps you overcome them. I go into much detail on this in my SpeakSTRONG book. 

The lame reasons / excuses are:  

  1. Misplaced respect for authority. We don’t question people in positions of authority, even when we suspect or know they’re wrong. 
  2. Fear of negative consequences. We fear retaliation or a backlash for speaking the truth.  
  3. Not wanting to offend. We ignore offenses or refrain from offering feedback so we won’t hurt someone’s feelings. (Often when we look deeply, we’re more concerned with our own discomfort, however.)
  4. Avoidance. Denial. We pretend there is no problem in order to avoid having to deal with a situation.  
  5. Habit. We never used to speak up, so we’re not about to start now. 
  6. No one else is saying anything. We assume if there were something that needed to be said, someone else would have said it a long time ago. 
  7. Self doubt. We question our own perceptions and are more inclined to trust other people’s perspective than our own. 
  8. Don’t know how. We don’t have the words. 

The shameful excuse is:

Greed. Going along gets us something we want. If that’s the reason you don’t speak up, you’re probably not interested in Character-based Communication skills. 

Some silence is golden

Take HEART before you embrace radical honesty. Some silence is golden. Sometimes not speaking is a sign of class, wisdom and far-sightedness. Silence is golden when,

  1. There is nothing to be gained by being honest. Some things are true, but not significant enough to be worth causing pain to explain.
  2. Your listener will exploit your honesty. You’re not morally obligated to tell a thief where you hide your valuables. 
  3. Timing is an issue. It’s perfectly okay to wait until someone has had their coffee to break the bad news to them. 

Name the lame excuse and speak up

books1Each lame excuse presents an opportunity for you to overcome your communication barriers and SpeakSTRONG. We have tools to address each of them. I recommend my SpeakSTRONG book to get the steps to address each barrier to effective communication. 

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