How Not Speaking Up Can Impact Workplace Relationships and Performance

We all want to get along with our colleagues and be seen as easygoing and cooperative, but there's an often overlooked downside to keeping our opinions and preferences to ourselves in the workplace. Recent research from the Harvard Business School suggests that failing to express ourselves can have a negative impact on our relationships with colleagues, affecting the quality of our work and potentially even our career prospects. In this blog, we'll discuss the findings of the study and what they mean for business leaders looking to create a healthy and productive workplace culture.


As business leaders, it can be easy to overlook the importance of creating a healthy, productive workplace culture. We focus on getting the job done, creating efficient processes, and increasing profits, but we often forget to prioritize the quality of relationships among colleagues. However, a recent study from the Harvard Business School suggests that failing to express ourselves in the workplace can actually have a negative impact on our relationships with co-workers, affecting the quality of our work and even our career prospects.

The study found that when people expressed their opinions and preferences in the workplace, it led to stronger relationships with their colleagues as well as a greater sense of belonging and inclusion. This in turn led to better collaboration, increased innovation and job satisfaction, and better overall performance.

Further, the study found that when people were allowed to express themselves, it created a much more positive working environment. People felt comfortable being themselves, and this led to better communication, collaboration, and trust among co-workers. This was especially true for those in traditionally marginalized positions, such as women and people of colour.

The results of the study have important implications for business leaders. Firstly, it highlights the importance of creating an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing themselves. This means encouraging an open dialogue among colleagues, as well as creating a safe space for everyone to express their opinions, ideas, and experiences.

Secondly, the findings suggest that it’s important to prioritize the quality of relationships in the workplace. Creating an environment where people feel supported, appreciated, and connected to their co-workers is essential for fostering a strong team dynamic. This should involve providing opportunities for collaboration, feedback, and recognition, as well as fostering a sense of collaboration, trust, and respect.

Finally, the study suggests that we need to be mindful of how our own behavior may be influencing our relationships with co-workers. Failing to express ourselves can have a negative impact on our relationships with colleagues, and this can have a knock-on effect on our work performance, job satisfaction, and career prospects.

Ultimately, the findings of the Harvard Business School study suggest that business leaders need to prioritize creating an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing themselves. This means encouraging open dialogue, building strong relationships, and providing support and recognition. By doing this, we can create a workplace culture that is conducive to strong collaboration, innovation, and job satisfaction.



In conclusion, business leaders should take the findings of the Harvard Business School study seriously and consider their implications when creating a workplace culture that encourages employees to express themselves. By ensuring that everyone's opinions and preferences are respected, business leaders can foster a healthier and more productive environment, enabling employees to build strong relationships with their colleagues and unlock their potential for success.


At Mahdlo, we provide businesses with competitive CMO services that allow you to stay competitive and innovative as you scale your business. Contact us if you’re curious to learn more about how our experts can help you enhance your marketing efforts, or schedule a free, no-obligation consultation now if you’re ready to dive in as soon as possible.



When Someone Asks Your Opinion, Give It
by Alixandra Barasch, Kaitlin Woolley, and Peggy J. Liu
December 02, 2022



Craig A Oldham

Craig A Oldham

Presently, Craig leads a marketing consulting practice advising companies and CEOs on how to drive incremental value through digital marketing innovation. He is widely acknowledged both as a change agent, and for his digital marketing expertise. Previously, he commanded senior marketing posts at several leading consumer, B2B, and financial services companies. His contributions have been within telecom, insurance, financial services, software, advertising, and non-profit sectors.
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