My co-worker made a mistake. It’s wrong, I know it, and it really bugs me.
Should I speak up? And what would I say?
Here’s a few things that you might want to think about as you debate the best course of action.
- What exactly is my motivation for speaking up? Is it to prove that I’m somehow smarter or more capable? Is it to exert some kind of power? Is it to protect my reputation in front of other people?
- What is the impact that I’d like to have on the other person? Am I looking for an apology or some kind of corrective action? Am I hoping that they’ll learn from what I have to say, perhaps avoiding that behavior in the future?
- How important is this, really, compared to the damage that might be done to the overall relationship? This can be an overriding factor with someone you have a strong relationship with, such as a spouse or a sibling.
- What impact might there be on other people who are observing the interaction? Will they be shocked or pleased that you spoke up – or remained silent? How will their understanding of you change as a result?
One of my key principles of interactions is to criticize in private, and praise in public. In confrontation, this helps both parties to control the emotions which might arise. For more positive reinforcement such as recognition, you have the opportunity to also raise the morale and expectations of others who are observing.
We’d like to think that a work environment is all about logic and just getting the job done. Unfortunately, we tend to have much of our personal identities tied up in our work relationships, which means that emotions can run much deeper than more casual social relationships. It really does matter a great deal what your manager thinks of you, and what your employees think of you. When you spend so many hours together, the interactions of co-workers can either make your job a joy or constantly painful.
Should you speak up, or not? It depends – on the answers to those questions above. Every situation is different.
by Carl Dierschow