Things like that work comment that was totally inappropriate and should have been called out, or that relative stranger with toilet paper trailing from the back of her skirt who we let walk right on by?
It begs the question would you say something? Because if asked, most of us would like to believe we’d step up and speak out when the need arises. The reality of life, however, is far more complicated then that…so let’s pose a few scenarios.
Ok, so you’re at a work or social do when the highly esteemed person opposite you clearly has something stuck between their teeth. This person’s not a friend or anything so there’s no easy familiarity to fall back on when it comes to pointing out the obvious.
Do you let them know, or let it roll?
Looking back many of us would have a back catalogue of times we wished we had called out offensive, racist, sexist or simply inappropriate remarks – that social joke that went a little too far, that comment that didn’t sit that well.
In retrospect, what would you say and what if these comments were being directed to someone else within your earshot, and not part of a conversation you were involved in?
This one’s slightly more tricky, because everyone’s standards are different, but if your mate’s children are running amok at a social gathering, do you step in and give them a serve?
How about that tantrum a six-year-old has reserved specifically for their mum, when five minutes earlier they were fine and dandy during a sleepover at your home? Or the foul-mouthed pre-teens swearing it up in front of your toddlers at the park.
Should you speak up or sweat it out knowing every parent disciplines differently?
We’re getting into the nitty gritty of friendships here…what if you’ve seen a close friend’s husband behaving inappropriately in public with another woman? Worse still, what if they behaved inappropriately towards you?
No matter how you deliver this news, chances are it will cause a rift, so is it your duty to tell them or do you pretend you never saw?
On the flipside, what if your friend is showing signs of alcohol or drug dependency? Do you bring that behaviour to their attention? If so, how do you navigate the fine line of love and care?
That fight at your neighbour’s home has been getting progressively louder. It could just be a big-time blue, but perhaps it’s something more.
Do you call the police, or perhaps go over? Do you wait to see how they’re faring the next day?
We teach our children that bad things happen when good people do nothing, but life’s not that simple. If we’re lucky we develop and navigate a moral code over the course of a lifetime, learning when to shut up, when to speak up and when to act.
Is there a time when you wish you’d spoken up or a situation when silence was the better option?