|  Blog Post   |  the unspoken is never benign

the unspoken is never benign

This week I worked with two different organizations both of which are part of industries that tend to put being polite and professional over being kind, clear, and courageous.

Except when we front with polite and professional when trying to have tough conversations, especially conversations around holding people accountable, we often aren’t saying the thing that actually needs to be said.

Which means the unspoken is running the show.
Because the unspoken is never benign.

It also means that too often people stay stuck and struggle to change, meet expectations, and give us what we want and need.

All because we chose politeness over being clear.

At this point, I am not sure there is any organization that doesn’t have tough accountability conversations that need to be had.

We can be kind by being clear, we can hold people accountable with courage, and we must ask for what we want and need speaking expectations. We also must recognize when our own emotions or discomfort with vulnerability stands in the way of these courageous conversations because too often it is this discomfort that makes us want to front and armor up.


Justine is a Licensed Professional Counselor with more than 25 years of experience in traditional mental health and personal and professional development. Justine has been certified in the work of Dr. Brené Brown for ten years. Justine is the author of eleven books, including five Amazon bestsellers covering subjects such as infertility, faith, and grief. She has been honored to do two TEDx Talks, The Permission of the And and The Donut Effect. She travels nationally and presents virtually to global audiences delivering keynotes, workshops, retreats, and trainings on topics such as leadership, courage, resilience, mental health, preventing and coping with burnout, and courageous and curious conversation, especially in creating cultures of belonging and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Justine lives in St. Louis with her husband Chad, their three dogs, and for four months of the year hundreds of monarch and swallowtail butterflies.


  • June 11, 2022

    This post took me back to my last job. I was in a very uncomfortable situation and was direct about it. I was not supported or well received. I left the organization. It felt awkward to speak up, but I couldn’t be fake-polite. Thank you for saying “clear is kind” and “the unspoken is never benign.” Thank you.


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