“If you don’t have any thing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Most of us grew up hearing that, and when it comes to playground advice to kids so they treat each other kindly, I’m all for it; but when you get to be an adult there are MANY times when staying quiet is not the kindest choice:
– When you’re a leader in a company and you have employees who aren’t meeting expectations
– When you’re an employee and your compensation is well below market average
– When you see someone being bullied
– When you want to tell someone they hurt your feelings
– When you need something from another person
– When you have an opinion
You get the gist. As adults it’s tempting to use this childhood advice as a reason to play small.
Maybe it doesn’t feel kind to point out an employee’s mistakes; however the alternative is to let them work themselves into termination never knowing that they could have improved. Maybe it doesn’t feel kind to tell someone you need something; however if you don’t share your needs you risk feeling resentful when they’re not met.
There are a few criteria you can apply in situations where you’re tempted to stay quiet but suspect that may not be the kindest choice:
1) How will I feel if I don’t say something? If the answer is: resentful, guilty, pissed off, taken advantage of, upset, etc.; the kinder choice is to have the conversation.
2) What’s likely to result from my speaking up? If the answer is: someone grows, learns, feels supported, gains understanding, etc.; the kinder choice is to say something.
3) What’s the reason I don’t want to say something? If the answer is: I don’t want to rock the boat, I’m uncomfortable, it’s scary, I lack the confidence, I’ve never said anything before, etc.; the kinder choice is to speak out.