Courageous Participation

It is my pleasure to welcome Doris Roach, Courage Specialist, as this month’s Uncommon guest blogger.  Doris and I met in 2010 when she attended our Motivation Factor® Certification where she contributed her smart, generous and thoughtful intellect to our discussions.  She is not only a talented coach and facilitator but an accomplished artist as well.  In her post, she gives us a taste of her characteristically straightforward, well-reasoned guidance. Thanks, Doris!


Courageous Participation by Doris Roach

I recently was involved with a group that had some difficult dynamics.  Members seemed more invested in proving how much they knew versus sharing ideas and learning from one another. Struggling with whether or not to continue with the group, I spoke with a wise friend who said three elements must be present for her to participate in any group:

  1. She must be able to retain her dignity;
  2. act with integrity, and;
  3. be professional.

Retaining your dignity means maintaining self-respect. If the group dynamics, culture, or participants make you feel uncomfortable, put down, or just drive you crazy, it may not be worth your time to continue.

Acting with integrity is perhaps the most important element. This means trying to find ways to address issues honestly and directly. You might try expressing how you feel to the person that is overpowering your voice. Or you could speak to the facilitator about how another method could be more culturally competent. But when those tactics fail or aren’t possible, it is courageous to value yourself enough to walk away.

Tied into integrity is being professional.  Among other things, this includes presenting your ideas and comments in appropriate and respectful ways.  Sometimes, this may mean holding your tongue when you want to lash out.  Timing is key and maintaining civility is paramount.  You never know when you will have to interact with members of the group in the future so you don’t want to burn bridges.

Using these factors as guideposts, I eventually decided to leave the group.  Sometimes group dynamics can be so ingrained and so complex that the healthiest thing to do is to remove yourself from the situation. To courageously exit a group, try to tie up any loose ends by saying goodbye to the facilitator and any participants you interacted with. You may want to explain why you are leaving, but if it doesn’t seem productive, you don’t have to. Resigning as amicably as possible is essential for maintaining good relationships. Give yourself the closure of knowing that you did what you could and that people won’t be wondering what happened to you.

Most of all, remember that leaving isn’t giving up, it’s being courageous.

Doris Ferrer Roach, J.D. is a coach, facilitator and courage specialist™. As a courage specialist™, she supports leaders, teams and individuals to courageously think outside of the box, be more authentic, take risks and change the status quo.  For more information about Doris, visit her website at



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