This was first published on ksl.com
"Recently I watched a person who I’m close to and care about, treat another person I care about very badly. It made me so angry.
I found myself getting more and more angry the more I thought about it. I finally decided I had to say something because it was wrong and if no one else was going to speak up, I needed to.
I put them in their place, and I admit I might have been a little harsh, but I felt right about it. Now people are saying I shouldn’t have said anything.
So, I’m wondering, what would say is the right thing to do? Should we speak up and defend others when they are mistreated or should we just stay quiet?"
The answer is…it depends.
It depends on a number of important factors, but before I give those factors to you, I want to make sure you understand that most people believe there are only two ways to respond to mistreatment. They are...
1) You allow the bad behavior to go on (and even allow yourself or other people to get walked on) because you are afraid it would be unkind or mean to speak up.
In this case you may be overly selfless, but also feel you are being nice and loving. People often refer to themselves as too nice here, but usually it is about feeling scared of hurting others. You would rather be mistreated and be a doormat, than speak up and risk hurting another person’s feelings or have them not like you.
2) You speak up and defend yourself and other people, because it is more important to be strong and right, than nice or loving.
In this case you tend to be overly selfish and strong, but sometimes too harsh and unkind. You feel OK about this because you see the other person as a threat to you or others.
People may say you are blunt, but it is more than just being strong enough to be honest, because it often comes from ego and even enjoyment in being right. You may think it’s better to err on the side of harsh and mean, than to be a doormat.
Think about those two options for a minute. Do you subconsciously believe these are your only two options? I’d like to introduce you to a third option.
3) I call this “the middle way” and you basically take the loving (from the 'weaker perspective) and the strong (from the 'mean' perspective) and putting them together. You learn to be both strong and loving at the same time.
This approach means speaking up, but doing it in a validating, kind, uplifting way that honors the value of both parties at the same time.
In order to find the "middle way" you must learn to quiet your fear and come from a space of trust and love instead.
This middle way may be foreign territory to you though, if you never had a parent or role model who behaved like this. You may need some coaching or to get some people skills in order to master it.
Here are 6 factors that should be in place if you are going to speak up or defend against mistreatment the right way:
My answer is YES, you should speak up if you can speak up, with the 6 factors above guiding you. If you aren't the right person or can’t do it the right way, then you should stay quiet until you can.
It means in cases where you value the relationship with this other person, and want to have a healthy one relationship, you might check your anger and ego at the door first, so you don’t destroy the relationship.
Kimberly Giles is the president of www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.