Before you roll your eyes, I know that the last thing you need in your life is another work acronym. But hear me out because this one’s not only interesting, it’s also going to get you ahead because it involves you, your boss, and your reputation.
CRQ stands for the courage quotient. In the not-so-distant past, courage wasn’t a pre-req for most office jobs. You came in, did what was asked of you, and went home before doing it all over again.
But that cycle’s not as popular as it once was, and that’s because many CEOs and leaders are looking for “employees that have the courage and conviction to speak up and back up their convictions when challenged,” according to Jeffrey Kudisch of The Washington Post. Within this pushback, however, team members are expected to have both the EQ and the IQ to know when to exercise their opinions and when to quietly do the job. Indeed, there is often a fine line, a happy medium.
Take my friend who owns a small business, for example; he was recently complaining about a member of his staff who was extremely vocal, voicing her opinions over and over, and making certain she was getting heard every step of the way. While he was open to listening and accepting feedback, he didn’t want to receive that pushback on every single little thing. There wasn’t enough time in the day.
CRQ isn’t displayed by questioning authority at every corner, by suggesting a new way of doing things at every turn, by refusing to follow through on a task until you’ve questioned the very nature of it.
Rather, if you make a habit of demonstrating your convictions when it matters—and not just because—you will be heard.
Let’s say your manager asks you to scrap several pages of the client deck you created, but you believe that those pages are crucial to seeing the big picture. In a clear, calm manner, speak up, offer your reasons, and support them—don’t just try to get your own way (that’s not having convictions, that’s about needing to be right).
If your boss is willing to listen—and you’ve got to read the situation—but refuses to respect the proposal, let it go. There’s plenty of intelligence in knowing when to back down, too. But, you may be surprised to find that she is very open to hearing you out—in many cases, you may know a project far better that she does, meaning your insights aren’t just welcome, they’re very valuable.
Of course, depending on your work environment, you may never feel at ease pushing back, speaking up, or saying no. If you find yourself constantly keeping your thoughts to yourself, consider having a conversation with your manager about when (if ever) it’s appropriate for you to voice some dissent. If a discussion like this is impossible, or if you’re rebuffed, then at least you’ll know you’re not leaving opportunity on the table.
With that said, do try to find a way to demonstrate your CRQ in your daily work. It might get redlined or rejected, but at least you’ll have tried. Right now, that may be brave enough.
Photo of man speaking up courtesy of Sam Diephuis/Getty Images.
Stacey Lastoe started writing short stories in the second grade and is immensely grateful to have the opportunity to write and edit professionally. Her work has appeared in YouBeauty, Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Runner's World online, and The Billfold among other publications. She enjoys running and eating in equal measure and lives with her husband and dog in Brooklyn. All three of them are avid New York Mets fans. Say hello on @stacespeaks.More from this Author