December tends to be a very stressful month for most. Holiday preparations and the pressure of end-of-year results don’t go hand in hand very well. And I think we all know that during times of stress, discussions can get heated, and disrespectful things can be said. 

Do we stay silent, or do we speak up? Staying silent can create an inner conflict, but speaking up can cause outer conflict.


We have all been in situations where the silence in the room speaks louder than words. Your toes curl in your shoes, and the inner cringe would love to leave the room or, better yet, be invisible. Everyone waits for someone else to say something, to break the silence that makes us perhaps feel safe at the moment but also complicit, wondering if we should address or ignore the elephant in the room. Or we are the ones hoping someone else will have our back and say something. 

We have conversations about speaking truth to power, we are encouraged to set boundaries, and whistle-blowers are celebrated for their courage. And yet, most stay silent because we know that speaking up might put us in a position of conflict with the people around us and the people we care about. We know that when we see something that might not be right, or something is said that’s disrespectful, or when people in a meeting are being ignored or muted, their voices should be heard. And when we are the ones being bullied at work, do we stand up for ourselves the way we would for our family and friends? 

Saying to someone that they should learn to speak up is a privilege not all have. So instead we can focus on supporting each other in cultivating a culture where speaking up is not a privilege but a possibility for building stronger relationships.

From team to top, there are situations where speaking up or staying silent is the difference between a healthy culture and a dysfunctional one. There’s a whole range between a culture where people feel safe, belong, and engage with care in their work and collaboration with each other to a culture where people disengage, do their minimum effort job to simply not get in trouble, and go home when time is up. Some feel their job is not in danger when they speak up, and some risk getting fired. 

Read the full article here.

Originally published on November 29, 2023 at