When was the last time you felt uncomfortable because of the behaviours, opinions, views or words expressed by someone else? Did you stay silent in that moment for fear of rocking the boat, or did you speak up?
This is a topic that comes up alot with our coaching clients. Perhaps as a society we’ve become too polite – perhaps we learnt as children that if we didn’t have anything nice to say, we shouldn’t say anything at all. But how appropriate is that really? If someone is saying or doing something that enrages, upsets or offends you, surely it’s your responsibility to say something?
Of course, it can be difficult in the moment to know how to respond. You might be caught off guard. You might be too scared to speak up, or you might feel embarrassed. We get it. How many times have we all thought of the perfect response to a situation half an hour after the event has passed?
But wouldn’t it be great if you always had a response ready to go? That way, if you did encounter sexist, racist, ageist, homophobic or any kind of offensive views or behaviours, you’d feel empowered to make an appropriate and respectful challenge, or to express a different view.
Here’s what we suggest. Have a think about the issues you’re passionate about. Finding your voice doesn’t mean arguing with everything – it means picking your battles and knowing where to invest your energy should your values be challenged. Now formulate a strategy for how you'll defend them. Prepare responses like ‘I hear your view, but I have a different thought to contribute’ or ‘Can I ask you some questions about that to understand your perspective?’
Another strategy to try is the situation behaviour impact (SBI) model. If you feel like you need to challenge someone, try describing the situation, their behaviour and the impact it has on you. It might be something like: ‘In the meeting yesterday, when you interrupted because you disagreed with my view, I felt too upset to concentrate on what you were saying.’
Give some thought to how, and when, you might hold people accountable for their actions or views. Ask yourself:
- What really matters to me?
- What am I prepared to tolerate and what aren’t I?
- What do I want to be known for?
- What are the consequences of not saying anything?
We all have a role to play as part of a global community. The next time you feel uncomfortable, maybe that’s a trigger for action. Learn to hear other people’s views, but trust yourself when you feel it’s time to voice your own.
– The Coach Place Global
Image by @BenWhite
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