Outside vs. Inside Voice – You Can’t Take It Back!

Group Of Business People With Their Mouths Taped Shut

I had a run in with the District Manager at a large retail account of mine many years ago. We had “philosophical differences” regarding my coverage of one of their stores, and one incident in particular upset him.

My relationship was less than solid with that location’s management team, and I received very little support from the sales associates. During my third year working with the account, the senior manager requested that I conduct another product knowledge meeting for his team on a Saturday morning. I had done that type of training before, but had become frustrated by their lack of support.

I will never forget what I said to him in response to his request that I take time out of my weekend to do training. My wording was all wrong. I said that I would not receive the “bang for the buck” to go and train his team now, and would wait until I received more support from them.

I did not mean for it to come out that way, but it did, and I had to live with the consequences. I remember the rest of the story like it was yesterday. I was numb all over and I felt like I was going to throw up! He stormed in to his office, and started dialing the phone to my regional office. I swear there was smoke coming out of his ears! It was after 4 pm, and my General Manager had typically left by then. But as fate would have it, he was still in the office that day!

By this time I had walked in to his office, I was pleading for him to get off the phone so we could work through the issue together. He was requesting a new sales rep from my General Manager (while I was standing right in front of him). To my General Manager’s credit, he was able to calm him down, and I was able to talk things through with my boss the next day. My management team knew this man quite well, and was aware that he was not my favorite person. I explained my side of the story, and eventually was able to convince the store’s District Manager to keep me on as the rep for both locations.

I was not worried about losing the underperforming branch, but was terrified to lose the local branch that I had worked so diligently to grow over the years. To say the least, I choose my words very carefully in the future, to avoid other conflicts.  I retained both branches, but the weaker place never met my expectations.

It is difficult to keep your emotions in check and not say what is on your mind in certain situations. But using your “outside voice” instead of your “inside voice” can have negative ramifications, especially if you catch somebody on a bad day! I learned that the hard way. I will never forget that feeling deep in the pit of my stomach when I almost lost one of my biggest accounts right before my eyes!

  • Have you ever wished you had used your “inside voice” rather than your “outside voice” in a specific situation during your career?
  • If so, what were the results of you speaking out loud?

Email me at TimMushey@gmail.com to share your story, and I will post the best response on my blog next week!


About Tim Mushey

Dynamic and energized sales rep, mentor and leader since 1999. This blog will be about sales, social networking, personal branding, leadership, music and having some laughs! Don’t be surprised if I mix it up on occasion, and talk about something totally different! I thrive on being part of successful, forward thinking teams. I am ready to go from the moment my feet hit the floor each morning, with the expectation that new adventures will be coming my way. It is rare that there isn't a smile on my face, as I take it all in, and have some fun along the way!

Posted on February 21, 2013, in Business, Business Relationships, Management, Rewind, Sales and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Hi Tim, I’m afraid early in my career I relied on my outside voice and didn’t understand I had an inside voice. Years and experience have a way of tempering even the hardest head..and I am old with lots of experience.

    Be encouraged!

    • Thanks for taking the time to respond Stephen. The outer vs inner voice challenges in business are a constant battle. More often than not if you think it will sound bad coming out, better to keep it in. I have learned some lessons along the way as well. Thanks again for stopping by!

  2. Very inspiring post and thank you for visiting my blog!

  3. Tim, this is a very poignant story. It applies to all positions and reminds us that we need to keep our outside voice in check. My thought is that the inside voice–what you’d really like to say–is what you need to silence at times. Did you read or hear about inside/outside voices? I’d love to investigate.


    • Hi Bob! Thanks for taking the time to comment. Keeping outside voices in check can be difficult, but necessary at times. Are you asking if I researched inside/outside voices, or just posted based on personal experience?

  4. Thanks for your story and keys to keeping a relationship even after a mistake.
    I think far too many times that “Outside Voice” is a lousy excuse for “saying it like it is”, but really, is that how it SHOULD be said?

    My fave outside voice story is actually with my son, who was in first grade at the time. His teacher had made a comment that you can’t see the sun & the moon at the same time. To which I promptly replied “Your teacher’s an idiot” and proceeded to “educate him properly”. Nevertheless, I was called into the principal’s office the next day… yes, inside voice. Use it.

    Make it ANOTHER great day!

    • Thanks for the follow and thanks for taking the time to comment. Using the outside voice certainly is valid in many instances. Your story about your son’s teacher is very funny! Thanks for sharing…

  5. Tim – I enjoyed your post and very much like the “outside/inside voice” analogy. After over 15 years in the corporate world, your story is painfully familiar. It’s funny how slackers tend to bring out the worst in go-getters. Oooops…was that my outside voice again???

  6. When it is time to speak and a time to be quiet collide. lol….I’m a newly graduate and am experiencing the new corporate culture. I can already see the similarities to this blog. Thanks

    • Hey thanks for taking the time to comment. Yeah corporate culture can be a bit tricky to navigate at first. I forget who said this quote but “you have two ears and one mouth for a reason”

      We are really starting to have fun at my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/SellLeadSucceed if you would like to join us there as well.

      Have a great weekend and thanks again…

Stop by & leave a comment. I would love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: