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MOTM June 2015
4,387 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I am old enough that you would think I'd have this completely figured out. There are times that I don't speak up when I should have, and there are definitely occasions when I would like to have my words back.

Sometimes I spend so much time trying to figure out whether I should or shouldn't speak up that I end up not saying anything at all. It's like there is a game of tug of war going on in my head. When I was younger that was definitely not the case, there were many times when I should have shut up rather than speaking up. As the years have gone by the decision to speak up has definitely become more complicated. (mostly because I do a lot more thinking before choosing to speak up now)

In many ways this is good, but the down side is that when taken to extremes it can cause resentment. Especially if you routinely keep your mouth shut about things that pain you (sometimes I do this). I try to remember to take each case individually and often run some of the following thoughts through my mind when trying to decide if I should speak up.

  • Is this something they typically do, or is their behavior possibly the result of having a really trying day? Example: spouse/child/other left their dirty clothes laying in the middle of the bathroom floor. If they don't usually do this, consider just picking them up and saying nothing. Do you really want to provoke a big nasty fight over a one time or infrequent occurrence? If it is a regular habit for them to do things like this, and it bothers you a lot, then it should be addressed. When addressing, choose your words carefully.
  • Do they typically speak to you or others in this manner? Example: do they routinely insult or belittle you? If they don't, perhaps they just chose their words poorly in this instance. If they don't normally do this, consider extending them a bit of grace. Perhaps they will do the same for you when you chose your words poorly (as we all do from time to time). If they regularly insult and belittle you, it should be addressed. Again, choose your words carefully.
  • Does the behavior put them or someone else in danger? Sure they might get mad if you say something, but if you know they are engaging in dangerous behavior and say nothing, are you really a good friend/parent/spouse/other? What if their behavior causes their death or someone else's? Can you live with that?
  • Do they want me to help them solve the problem or do they just want me to extend a listening ear? This one is a little more difficult because not everyone is the same. Often people just want to know that you care enough to listen, but be prepared to offer advice if they seem to want it. (However, don't advise people about things you know nothing about. Bad advice is not helpful. In those instances it is best to try to hook them up with someone knowledgeable about the subject)
  • Is there anything beneficial in what you are about to say? I I try to remember to reflect upon these things. Will it help them? Will it encourage them? Is it kind? What do you hope to gain by speaking up? Will it strengthen the relationship or damage it?

tl;dr Are the positives of speaking up likely to outweigh the negatives?

Someday perhaps I will master all of this and it will come effortlessly to me, but that day has not yet arrived.:sad:
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