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Speak Your Truth In Business & ROCK Your Career

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Speak Your Truth In Business & ROCK Your Career

How many times have you bitten your tongue in a board meeting or muzzled yourself when your boss starts spouting off? How many times have you failed to speak up when you disagree with your business partner? How often have you ignored your intuition and kept your mouth shut because you’re afraid of creating conflict with your clients, colleagues, or superiors?

Oh yeah, baby. I feel you.

Why I Kept My Mouth Shut At Work

When I was a medical student and resident, I felt powerless. The senior physicians in charge of my education were responsible for my grade, whether I got to scrub in on the big surgeries, and whether or not I got to graduate. To appease them, I endured frequent bouts of sexual harassment (like the surgeon who would hand me the suction catheter in the operating room and leer at me while hissing “Suck me good, Lissa. Suck me hard, Lissa.”)

I tolerated what amounted to assault and battery (like the time I came in with the flu and the senior physician shot me up with anti-nausea drugs, made me wear a Depends diaper, and forced me to scrub into the operating room until I passed out, then put me on a gurney, loaded me up with IV fluids and more drugs, and made me scrub back into surgery.) I ignored the orgasmic cries of my bosses having affairs in the call rooms when I needed their advice on patient care.

Most importantly, I kept my mouth shut, like a good little doctor-in-training.

On one level, I was rewarded for doing so. I made good grades. I got good evaluations. And I got a great job after I finished my training.

On another level, I suffered. I wound up with high blood pressure. I got divorced – twice. I had nightmares. I got sick often.

Even When I Had Power, I Kept Quiet

You’d think I’d finally find my voice to speak up once I finished my training, but I was just the junior associate in the group medical practice, so I clammed up when my boss started spouting off when I disagreed. I wanted to get promoted to full partner, where I would finally be rewarded with power and money and influence.

But then I got promoted to full partner, and I still didn’t speak my truth.

I was afraid of rocking the boat, fearful of discord within the partnership, insecure about my own ideas, and committed to avoiding conflict. In my practice, they called me “the glue.” I was the peacemaker.  Everyone spoke their truth to me, and then I helped repair rifts.

But throughout the process, I kept my mouth shut.

Finally, I Spoke Up

Then one day, after what I came to call my “Perfect Storm” (I gave birth, my dog died, my brother wound up in liver failure, and my father passed away, all in 2 weeks), I found my voice. No longer was I willing to go quietly into the night. I had something to say – damn it – and by golly, I was going to finally say it.

So I started asking for what I needed at work. I spoke up at our weekly meetings. I expressed my opinions. I stood up for myself and my patients.  I used my voice, for the first time – maybe ever.

Nobody Listened

After mustering up the courage to speak my truth, I got shot down. Nobody heard my voice. I felt powerless. And so I left.

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.  She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.  Lissa blogs at and also created two online communities - and She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.


+ add your own
9:01AM PST on Nov 14, 2011


9:22AM PST on Nov 11, 2011

Hypocrisy is the business

5:03AM PDT on Oct 27, 2011


2:30AM PDT on Oct 23, 2011

In every job that I tried to stay low on the radar and just do my best, I never got the opportunity to advance. Then I got a job with a start-up company and I decided to push myself to speak my mind. This worked for a while, and eventually I was the youngest super on the staff. All was well for a while, but when I spoke out against my immediate boss, I got fired. Guess he couldn't take it when it was directed at him.

2:29PM PDT on Oct 22, 2011

great reminders!

5:41AM PDT on Oct 22, 2011

Telling the truth has got me fired. Telling the truth has got me the best job ever. It all depends on where you are working. I tell the truth because I would feel awful if I could no longer respect the woman who stares back at me from the mirror.

1:51AM PDT on Oct 21, 2011

Thank you very much! I will subsribe to your blog! :)

10:55PM PDT on Oct 20, 2011

I was very fortunate to have worked in an ethical multinational for most of my working life. It was not in N.America and the corporate culture was open to promoting women and also granting good salaries and benefits.
It was a shock to work in BC where the better managers /directors were regarded as threats and often were pushed out. I did speak up several times about unethical behaviour or unprofessionalism and explained that I was either flattered by being fired or gave my honest reason for resigning!
I agree strongly with Pat L. that we should support women professionals.

11:55AM PDT on Oct 20, 2011

Thank you.

7:46AM PDT on Oct 20, 2011

Great article:))
Thank you for sharing!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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