January 8, 2018

How…and When…to Take a Stand


Right now, this minute ask yourself: What do I stand for? What matters most to me that would give me the moral courage to speak up?

Sometimes, it’s easier to answer with the opposite in mind. Fill out the blanks below:

  1. Without ________________ life would suck.
  2. Without ________________ life would suck.
  3. Without ________________ life would suck.

I know…it’s a highly sophisticated process 🙂 But it’s this straightforward, simple approach that gets to the heart of what drives or concerns us. Many of the women — and men — that I coach repress the daily issues that irk them the most: Betraying colleagues, chastising managers, careless subordinates, judgmental supervisors, interrogating clients. They’ve come to accept a hostile work environment as the inevitable norm. And then there are the issues in politics and the press that play out in daily discussions in lunch rooms and conference rooms as well as in the noisy and often negative social media news feeds. Sexual harassment is on the agenda in public discourse and also shows up in harassment trainings, policies and real life cases in the workplace. Men and women with opinions, ideas and beliefs about the very topics that impact all of our lives just try to breathe in and focus on their work. The coping strategy has been avoidance and a robotic approach to accomplishing daily tasks with minimal exchanges and interactions about things that, well, matter!

Why do we shy away from standing up for what we care about? We don’t feel safe; we fear repercussion; we don’t know enough about the subject; we know too much and are emotionally invested; we hate confrontation. So we withdraw, disengage, retreat and tell only our loved ones at home or friends on the phone what we really think and feel.

If being more courageous, standing up for yourself and others, making principled decisions and participating in important conversations is on your agenda/resolution list for 2018, here are some guiding tips and tools:

  1. Determine whether you are willing to endure the danger and stakes involved in taking a stand. Spell out for yourself the worst that could happen…can you take it?
  2. Which of your principles (from the Top Three exercise above) is being challenged? If without this principle life would suck, then it’s probably worth fighting for.
  3. What opposing opinion do you hold? What are you taking a stand against? Get very clear on stating your belief in your own certain terms.
  4. Assess the strength of your emotions about this issue. If you feel very strongly about it, it’s an indication that you have to take a stand (or it will keep you up at night, get repressed until it blows up, sabotage you in some way) and that you have to create some emotional distance to communicate about it clearly.

Lee Broekman is a communication coach and trainer with a mission to make the world a better place, one communicator at a time. Her company Organic Communication works with high level leaders and trains decision makers in top organizations to communicate, collaborate and innovate naturally and effectively. Delivering programs in concentrated bursts, with high intensity and elevated engagement, Lee turns powerful content into actionable, applicable tools. Her forthcoming book, Stop Blocking, Start Connecting: 8 Key Skills of Successful Communicators, is available for preorder at 8blockers.com.