Veterans: don’t be silent

Q: Proud to be veteran and to now be a relationship sales manager on Wall Street.  Here is the problem:  My colleagues are saying things like “Drop ‘America strong,’ drop the bomb.”  Senseless war mongering—they have no clue about what it means to be on the battlefield. I keep my head down and mouth shut —talk is cheap, isn’t it?

A:  First, thank you—and your family—for your service to our nation.  Second, talk is not cheap.  It can be cheapened by hypocrisy, lies, hate and bravado.  Please don’t be silenced by “cheap” speech—don’t give up your power by not speaking.  Don’t sit on the sidelines listening to what amounts to a bunch of BS when you know the reality because you have been on the field.

I know that “go along to get along” is the default behavior when you assume a new role.  As a veteran, you might find this more challenging because your military experience may convey minority status:  You may be one of a few, or the only one, with a recent military background. Your unique status is important to consider because, as a newbie, keeping your head down and mouth shut is a very effective acculturation strategy while you find your way and identity on Wall Street.

However, there is always a tipping point.  When you reach the point where the “cheap talk” smacks up against your personal integrity and your values, you will speak.  Before you do,
consider the following: 

  • Are your emotions in check? Are you angry? 
  • Is there one person who rubs you the wrong way? Do their comments seem to be directed at you personally? If yes, don’t speak and don’t make it personal.  Wait—and sort it out:  What are they really saying?  What is the real issue? 
  • Note: Are the comments “hazing”? If yes, ignore the content and deal with the boundary issues and relationships. 

Now, once you have sorted the emotional intelligence issues above, you can craft a response and have a conversation by determining:

  • Are you comfortable talking about yourself or are the details of your military experience a black hole for your colleagues? Note: If it’s a black hole, your colleagues may be saying what they say in order to draw you out.
  • Are their comments just bravado to attain status or attention? If yes, ignore them.  If not, are your colleagues truly concerned about the likelihood of war?  Are you concerned?
  • What is the relationship that you want to have with your new colleagues? What do you want to share with them about your military experience that will make them want to “watch your back”?

There’s no need to keep silent.  You can bring a unique point of view to these conversations if you approach them with care.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *