You can see that the evidence is mounting against the old adage, ‘silence is golden’. Knowing when to bite your tongue is definitely wise but it is also wise to know when to speak up and to use your voice well. It is important not to be a sheep or allow those around you to be sheepish. So, let’s take Key Steps together and take a stand against…

Deadly silence (#3)

Silence is unhealthy and even deadly when we don’t speak up because we:

1. Follow the crowd. The term ‘bystander apathy’ was coined by a group of researchers who found that we tend to take our cue about whether to speak up or not from those around us. In alarming circumstances, most people keep quiet if those around them seem unperturbed. In other words, silence becomes contagious in our effort to maintain the status quo.

2. Don’t be a sheep. Teach people about the dire consequences of the theory of ‘diffusion of responsibility’ that is offered to explain the bystander effect. The theory states that people ask themselves, “Why should I help or speak up when there’s someone else who could do it?” Responsibility for helping then diffuses or spreads. Just like a layer of oil, which becomes thinner the larger the area it covers, so our sense of responsibility weakens in the midst of a large group. How often do you see this theory at play in your workplace or family? If it is not your responsibility to help or to speak up when necessary, whose is it? Make it safe for people to talk up and give feedback (remember last week that we spoke about the importance of non-judgement and not ridiculing anyone) and remind yourself and other that all it takes is one person to…

“be the difference that makes the difference