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You Have a Right to Remain Silent – But Should You?

Posted on Jan 20 2017 under Blog Posts

You Have a Right to Remain Silent

I have observed people choosing to remain silent when there is a conflict with another. Remaining silent when angered by another’s behavior or words has quickly become one of my pet peeves in others.

Why do some people stay quiet?

There are several reasons why people don’t voice their grievances. One reason is, you don’t want to hurt or anger the other person and fear destroying the relationship. Second, bringing up your discontentment can put you in a vulnerable position if the person were to flip the tables on you. Third, you feel nothing will change if you bring it up, so what is the point.

While to some degree these reasons depending on the situation are understandable. Remaining silent is a maneuver used by those who like to avoid conflict. Conflict avoidance doesn’t resolve the issue, and in many cases, it makes it worse.

Why is it important to speak up?

It is important to speak up for the same reason some choose to stay quiet- not to destroy the relationship. By not voicing your grievance you are allowing resentment and frustration to build. If another person persists in using a particular behavior that you dislike, you may choose to limit your time around that person. By speaking up, and voicing your frustration in a way that is constructive you could enhance the relationship and create a more open dialogue.

It is also important to speak up in situations where you feel hopeless about the outcome because we never know for sure that things won’t change. In those cases, we are basing our beliefs off of assumptions that it doesn’t matter so why bother.

How can you speak up effectively?

Prepare. If you don’t enjoy conflict, then a surefire method to feel more confident is to prepare beforehand. Write down exactly what you would like to say and practice it. When you prepare prior, you can edit and adjust anything that could make the other person defensive.

Use I feel statements. When you are addressing an issue, you have with someone else’s behavior or words describe how what they did or are doing makes you feel. For example, “Lennie, I felt hurt the other day when I overheard you talking to Lucy about me.” By sticking to “I Feel” statements, you are stating how their behavior affected you instead of attacking them personally, which leads me to my next point.

Don’t Blame or Name Call.  When a person feels they are under attack, they become defensive, and it makes resolving the conflict more difficult.

When you choose to remain silent, you allow your feelings and needs to go unaddressed. It is my belief that if you decide not to speak up when in conflict with another person then you give up your right to complain about it later.


Have a good week,

Abigail R. C. McManus

Guest Blogger

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