Allodoxaphobia – a social phenomenon?

Allodoxaphobia – I am talking about the fear of other peoples’ opinions, being ridiculed by other people, someone stronger not agreeing with you, looking a fool – a very common phobia. It’s fair to say that it impacts all of us at some time or another. The outcome of this is that we choose to ‘play it safe’, don’t say what we think and try to fit in with the crowd. The only way to break out of this is to dig deep and find some courage.

I was listening to the debate that ensued in October about the despicable racial display on the RyanAir plane – the whole issue became a fault of RyanAir, particularly the young cabin crew team. The man who filmed it said on Radio 2 that he felt it was more important to capture it on film than speak out – that seems like a sign of the times! Apparently only one person actually spoke out to object.

What did you think and what would you have done? 200 people said nothing in the moment; I wonder what their motivation for that was? I suspect fear was in the mix and selfishness – they wanted the plane to take off on time. I wonder how many now wish they had shown the courage to speak out and castigate the man?

How often have you left a meeting and played it over time and time again in your head, thinking of all the things that you wish you had said. The Beverley Knight song comes into my mind, ‘Shoulda, Coulda Woulda…’ It’s all too late though, you can’t rehearse after an event, it is only a worthwhile exercise to carry out before the event.

So where do people get courage from? The Victoria Cross – the award for gallantry in the face of the enemy has been won just 1358 times in its 162-year history; many of the winners claimed that “I only did what I had to.” Courage tends to be something that others recognise rather than behaviour that anyone sets out to display which means that it isn’t an inbuilt quality, it isn’t something that you either have or don’t have, it is something that anyone can display. The first step needs to be about speaking out about something that you truly believe in. The challenge is less the speaking out and more the knowing what you really believe in.

So, if you truly believe in something – you have a passion for something, what is the worst that can happen if you speak out and stand up for your belief? One of the biggest fears we all face is rejection and somehow we get speaking out tangled up in that fear of rejection, so there are a whole bunch of us going round not saying what we really want to say and all agreeing with stuff that we don’t actually agree with.

If you want people to be brave in business, then there needs to be a deliberate culture shift in recognising that bravery – encourage courage. Debates will become more meaningful and meetings will have bolder actions being taken and better results being achieved.

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