Many times you’ll hear men joking about how women never tell them what they really want. Even though that age-old joke can get on my nerves, I am one of those women (no matter how much I want to deny it). I don’t like to think that I’m complicated, I’m just an extremely passive person. Whether it’s where we are going to eat, when someone wants me to do something I don’t really want to do, or when someone asks, “Does anyone have any questions?”, I’m usually the one shrugging and staying quiet. I hate conflict, and don’t like causing it until I feel that it’s absolutely necessary. I’m not here to encourage you to be shy like me, but I do believe in picking your battles. Unfortunately, getting defensive and speaking your mind every single time something happens won’t get you anywhere, but there are times where it’s a good thing to speak up. Here’s where I believe speaking your mind will benefit you in the long run.
When You Know Something is Unethical
The few times I have spoken my mind, whether it backfired or not, is when I truly believed something unethical was happening. I’ve always found it ironic how many people continually speak their mind until something extremely wrong is happening. There’s just something deep inside me that feels like it’s shouting, “This is not right! Do something!” Unless you are in immediate danger, I do encourage you to speak up. There are so many people that become part of the bystander effect by thinking that someone else will help.
One example of when this happened to me was when I was walking along the shore in Pacific Beach with my boyfriend. It was an early Sunday evening and we heard a combination of yelling and laughing. We didn’t realize what was going on until we were pretty much walking past it; three men in their 20’s beating up a homeless man with glass bottles. I was horrified that people could pick on someone so helpless right in plain sight. I knew better than to try to save the day right then and there, since both my boyfriend and I’s safety could have been compromised. We walked to the closest open restaurant, where I alerted the hostess what was happening outside. She simply looked at me like, “What am I supposed to do about it?” I then walked to a little strip mall up the way where we actually ran into the homeless man who was bleeding from his head and stumbling. Luckily a security guard was close by and we flagged him down. Together we were able to call 911, and wait until help arrived. I don’t know what happened to that man since, but it pains me to know what might have happened if he didn’t receive any help at all.
When the Voiceless Need a Voice
Sometimes certain people or things are unable to speak up, so they need help from others to defend themselves. Whether it’s animals, the climate, children, or someone who might be too afraid to say something, be the one to help! It could be a situation where a group is sharing false information about a person who isn’t there. If you respect this person and want to save their reputation, you should feel some responsibility to clear the air. I think many of us feel this way about family and our close friends, but sometimes we should do this for people we aren’t extremely close to.
I’ve seen this in various friend groups over the years. It’s amazing how quickly people will turn on you due to one mistake or rumor. When you’re one of the friends in this situation, try not to take sides and don’t believe every piece of gossip you hear about the situation. I know it’s easy to get sucked into the drama, but that friend of yours might really need you by their side. Hopefully if the tables are ever turned, they’ll be there for you too.
When You Aren’t Getting the Respect You Deserve
This is a hard one, because lack of respect usually builds up over a long period of time. I’ve seen this the most often in work situations. I’ve had my fair share of jobs in different industries, and this seems to be the one thing that carries over from work place to work place. In most cases I feel like I was a respected employee, but I’ve even been in this boat before. Even when I wasn’t the target, there have been many times where one of my coworkers has been. Many times these situations are dicey and you don’t want your job to be on the line because you stuck your nose in the wrong place. I totally get it, but sometimes there are subtle ways to show you don’t want to be a part of it. You can either point out the positive things this coworker does, or just simply stay out of any “lunchroom” negativity.
When you’re the target, approach things differently. Sometimes when you go into your shift with confidence it can change how people perceive you. If it’s really bad, politely approach the person who is causing you the most distress. Absolute worst case, find a new place where people will respect you. Sometimes there is nothing you can possibly do to fix how people treat you, except for moving on entirely. The problem with constantly feeling disrespected is that people tend to bottle up their feelings until they absolutely lose it. I’m sure most of you have been there before, but it’s not a good look on anyone. It’s not worth losing your mind over, so try to exhale and handle it like an adult. Again, this is much easier said than done.
Infographic of the Week:
Question of the Week:
What was a situation where you decided to speak up?