Okay, let’s review. How many times have you heard, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”?
Well, when should you be squeaky? And when should you let it go?
A few weeks ago, working with one of my clients, “Judy,” during her VIP Weekend, we had that discussion. Judy had a laundry list of things that bothered her. And she wasn’t sure when to make a scene and when to turn the other cheek.
So many of my clients like Judy have similar concerns that it made me stop and ponder: When is the time to speak up?
First of all, let me start by saying: I am not in your shoes. Something that sets me off may not push any of your buttons. I have no way of knowing this about you. But speaking up for yourself, your family, your coworkers, your patients – That’s where it gets personal for me.
Here’s the kind of things I hear a lot about from my clients:
- Susan always ends up being the one to see emergency work-in patients in her busy family practice clinic. Her partners justify it by saying she doesn’t have young children.
- Bob has a habit of missing business meetings, usually because he is dealing with a walls-can-come-tumbling-down problem with a client where someone else dropped the ball. Since he isn’t at the meetings, he gets “volunteered” by others to be on more committees than he has time for.
- Anna is assigned to twice the amount of calls as the others in her residency program because she was out on maternity leave a couple months ago. Yet as a single mom of two young kids, she is finding herself stretched to a breaking point.
- Joe tries to be an easy-going manager but he feels like staff is taking advantage when they call in “sick” only on Mondays.
In each of the examples above, I had a “come to Jesus” discussion with my clients. When there is no fairness in the situation, or when you’ve allowed the control to be taken from you, no matter how you unpack it, then it’s time to speak up. Calmly. Firmly. Emphatically.
Sometimes speaking up, even when it’s hard, is the totally right thing to do. Not just to save yourself and your sanity, but to help others in your world.
Sure, sometimes you need to choose your battles.
Now, do I always go to bat for my clients being in the right? Um, no. Not really.
Let me share some other stories I’ve heard:
- Larry’s wife gets upset when she doesn’t get a call letting her know Larry will be another three hours in surgery.
- Jenny gets frustrated every morning by the fact that her husband never unloads the dishwasher, despite weekly — if not daily — reminders from her.
- Rebecca wonders why she has less support staff in the operating room than some other surgeons, despite the fact that her cases are shorter and she’s famous for throwing a temper tantrum every few weeks.
In each of the cases above, I’ve asked my folks to really think about it. How much time does that call take, Larry? It takes less than 5 minutes to unload a dishwasher, Jenny. Do you think maybe you reap what you sow, Rebecca?
Speaking up when you or someone in your world is being taken advantage of, mistreated or just plain dissed is almost always a good thing.
When you’re a bit put out because you’re not getting your way, that’s a whole ‘nother story.
Please share in the comments below when you’ve stepped up and spoken up. I’d love to hear!