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Make no mistake about it: When it comes to employee relations, silence is not golden.

This story appears in the November 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It's a sad fact of downturns: Employees stop speaking theirminds because they fear losing their jobs. For employees watchingthe unemployment rate rise, it can seem safer to go along to getalong.

But hear this loud and clear: Employee silence is killinginnovation and perpetuating poorly planned projects that lead todefective products, low morale and a damaged bottom line, saysLeslie Perlow, an associate professor of organizational behavior atHarvard Business School in Boston and author of the book WhenYou Say Yes, But Mean No: How Silencing Conflict WrecksRelationships and Companies . . . and What You Can Do About It(Crown Business). "Behind many broken processes, mistakendecisions and failed products are people who didn't speakup," Perlow says.

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