Speaking up at work can be very difficult, even if you know it’s the right thing to do. You see something unethical. Notice someone being excluded. Hear a colleague using offensive language. How many times have you wanted to say something, but your inner voice says don’t? However, by NOT speaking up, you’re sending a message that this bad behaviour is OK. And it is NOT. You’re also not doing your job as an employee, co-worker or leader if you turn a blind eye.
So what do you do? Research shows we’re more likely to follow through on difficult tasks if we acknowledge the challenge we’re facing. So your first move should be to take a breath and remind yourself that speaking up will be hard. And be prepared for the person to push back when you confront them. Frame your comment as feedback to show you aren’t out to get anyone and you aren’t assuming they meant to hurt. If a co-worker makes an offensive joke, for example, say, “You may not have meant to offend, but here’s how I experienced it.” Think about different types of situations where you may need to speak up and how you’ll respond. Having a plan will ensure you’re ready to confront bad behaviour when you see it. To find out more, go to https://hbr.org/2019/03/how-to-speak-up-when-it-matters