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It’s easy to get in the habit of just going with the flow at work, keeping our opinions to ourselves. After all, she who rocks the boat is sometimes the first one pushed overboard.

 And yet, a boat that’s not rocking may be going nowhere. As Walter Lippman said,

When all think alike, then no one is thinking.”

The question then is how to rock the boat without getting dunked. Consider the following story.

Robert Townsend, former CEO of Avis Rent-A-Car tells about an associate who had a unique way of expressing his disagreement. When Townsend was pressing a new idea that this associate didn’t think would work, the associate would send Townsend a memo that read:

“Dear Jefe de Oro [an Inca form of address that means Chief of Gold]: If you say so, it will be my hourly concern to make it so. But before I sally forth in service of this, your latest cause, I must tell you with deep affection and respect that you’re full of it again.”

The associate understood the power of rocking the boat gently and respectfully, with a dash of humor.