Too often, too many people stay silent in response to mistreatment or upset. Regardless of whether the other person is your partner, spouse or friend, speaking up about issues that are bothering you is vital to healthy relationships.
Below are five reasons why speaking up is so important:
1. Silence often leads to resentment. When we stay silent about things that bother us, those upsets often turn into resentments. The more we stifle our upsets, the more resentful we get about the person’s poor treatment of us. As a result, our anger and upset will often come out sideways (passive-aggressive) or through angry outbursts and blow-ups.
2. Resentment rots out relationships. Countless unspoken upsets lead to a natural buildup of a wall of resentments. Eventually too many resentments erode relationships.
3. Solution is impossible without conversation. If you stay silent about an issue, it makes it impossible to resolve that issue or your negative feelings about it. You cannot blame other people for not changing their behavior if you haven’t spoken about it to them.
4. Speaking up tells the person what you will or will not accept. Different people have different levels of tolerance when it comes to relationships. You must speak to what is or is not okay for you and not assume the other person should know. S/he is not a mind reader.
5. Speaking up is about self-care. Speaking up is not about getting the other person to change—although that would be a positive perk. Speaking up is about having your own back and loving yourself enough to stand up for yourself. If the other person changes their behavior—great. If the other person doesn’t change their behavior—feel good that you had the courage to speak up for yourself.
In general, speaking up for ourselves in times of upset is a necessary act of self-care. Although we cannot change the other person’s behavior, we certainly can change whether or not we choose to stand there and accept it. If we stay silent, we are accepting the behavior. Stand up, speak up and be calm and grounded in how you do so.
Remember that other people are most likely feeling what you are feeling with that person. Your feedback is a gift to anyone courageous enough to hear it. You be courageous enough to speak it and provide them with an opportunity to grow.
Challenge: If something is upsetting to you, have the courage to speak about the upset. Be clear about what was upsetting and ask directly for what you need/want. Know that if you don’t ask for the difference you want, you don’t have the right to expect something different. Speak up with calm and strength and have your back.