Have you heard anyone say: “Keep a lid on it”? Or, have you ever said “keep a lid on it” when you wanted someone to keep a secret or to be quiet? While the phrasing may seem dated, its meaning still gets expressed daily. There are times when not speaking (keeping a lid on it) is the wiser choice.
There are times we need to calm a conflict, or to reflect on a situation, and keeping quiet oneself makes sense. Sometimes inviting others to be quiet, or to take a break in the meeting, is the best way to make progress toward problem solving. In the quiet of a break or a commute, we can reflect on what our day most needs from us. In a silent moment, we can gather thoughts to voice that which will improve a situation or a relationship.
Five years ago, I realized that I had been “keeping a lid on it” and not feeling good about several situations. The telltale sign was that at home I discovered I had collected over one-hundred lids. Lids from markers, juice bottles, and containers of all sorts and sizes. At the time, I had in mind some teen leadership workshop activities that would consume the lids. In hindsight, I think my lid-saving was a metaphor for all the things I was not speaking up about, not asking for help with, and not feeling good about. Once I rediscovered the lid stash and this metaphor, I took a photo and discarded the lids.
Lesson learned. Keeping a lid on things that need to be spoken is not helpful. Avoidance, bottling, stuffing – none of these solve problems. While some problems cannot be solved or even influenced by us, the ones that can need our suggestions, ideas, and guidance; they need us to speak up.
Identify where you are keeping a lid on things. Recognize that there are times when being quiet, is not the right thing to do for your health, or for the good of a situation. And recognize when keeping a lid on something is timely and helpful. Taking the lid off, can help you solve problems, address rough spots, and can help you and the team make progress.