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Six Tips for Speaking Up Against Bad Behavior

Six Tips for Speaking Up Against Bad Behavior
Psychologist Catherine Sanderson explains how to be more courageous in speaking up about bad behavior, from offensive speech to harmful actions.


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Why we lack the courage to step up

Why we lack the courage to step up

Most of us think we will have the courage to confront someone to do the right thing, but we will often fail to step up when actually facing a situation.

  • One factor that prevents us from speaking up is our fear of the consequences, such as losing a friendship, getting a reputation as a troublemaker, or facing negative consequences in our professional careers.
  • Another factor is confusion about what we're actually witnessing. We don't want to step in and appear stupid or overly sensitive.




Clear vs ambiguous situations

Social psychologists have consistently found that people are more willing to take action in a clear emergency than in an ambiguous situation.

When facing an ambiguous situation, our natural tendency is to look to others for guidance. But if each person is looking to the people around them to act, no one wants to risk feeling foolish and embarrassed, and the problematic situation will be left unchallenged. However, we can sharpen specific skills for challenging bad behavior.



Express concern in a short, clear way

Find a quick and straightforward way of expressing concern or disapproval when you're dealing with bad behavior. This identifies that the action isn't a reasonable one for the person doing the negative thing and for the others observing it.

One study showed that the best confrontation was calm but direct: "Hey, that's not cool."



Disarming a speaker

You can disarm a speaker by assuming that a comment is sarcastic. That way, it doesn't make the person who made the remark appear stupid or bad.

For example, you could respond to a sexist comment by saying, "I know you're just trying to be funny, but some people really do think that women are too emotional to be president!" Your response shows you disagree with their comment without making the person look bad.



Make the discomfort about you, not them

To explain your reaction when witnessing bad behavior, make a personal connection to an insensitive remark. _For example, "I was raised in the Catholic church so that comment is hard for me to hear."

This reduces the risk to make the person engaging in a bad behavior feel nasty or defensive but indicates that you found their behavior wrong.



Actively play out different types of responses

Learn and practice different techniques for responses to wrong behavior to help reduce inhibitions about speaking up.

Roleplaying various scenarios increase our confidence to intervene in a real-world situation.



Find people that share your concern

For those who are not naturally courageous, finding someone who shares our concern can be essential to challenge prevailing social norms.



Learning to speak up: taking an outsider's perspective

Speaking up can be far easier when you see the world from someone else's perspective.

For example, understanding what someone else goes through who is being bullied or assaulted will give you the courage to stand up for wrong behavior.




About Breath, from the Real King’s Speech Techniques:

  1. Awareness: Breath = Voice, so make sure that you are aware of your breathing.
  2. Support: Breath is your key support for the voice.
  3. Warm up: Always warm up fi...

Voice Modulation

You modulate your voice when you change pitch, like when your voice goes up at the end of a question. 
Just like with music, its rhythm and tone can convey a meaning that may be diff...

Use Voice Modulation to Improve Your Speaking Voice

  • If you want your audience to quiet down, to be calm or to perhaps hang on your every word, speak more quietly.
  • f you want to rile up your audience, speak with a stronger voice. You can also use volume to convey your passion.
  • Try not to speak too quickly. Most audiences will have trouble following along. Instead, speak at a moderate pace. Slowing down your speech even more will emphasize each word.

Working With Microphones

Microphones just make any speaking mistakes or tics louder and easier for your audience to detect.

Practice speaking with a microphone before your performance and record your speech. This will help you detect words you have pronounced too loudly and times when hard consonants have caused feedback with the sound system.

Social networks have a strong effect on our ideas

You may think it was your idea to keep your desk neat or speak up in a meeting, but your behavior was likely influenced by those in your network.

Once we understand social network...

A network is more than just a group of individuals

In addition, a network has ties between people.

The connections between individuals are what changes a group to a network.

We naturally copy others

Your experiences in the world is not only a product of your own desires, actions, and thoughts, but also a product of the desires, actions, and thoughts of people around you.

The things that are seemingly personal to you are actually very strongly influenced by similar traits in other people. You do have agency. You can choose what to do. But you're also affected by what others are doing. Both are true.

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