Is it better to let sleeping dogs lie?

“Is it really worth it?” John considered the implications of complaining about his colleague’s behaviour. For years John had been completing Trish’s research projects. Why? Well, because they needed to be done, and Trish always seemed to have an excuse for not being able to get to them. John had to come realise Trish was not really competent at this part of her role, and he was now the stop gap for her. He’d been covering for her for years. She was also getting credit for his work and did not acknowledge his contributions whatsoever. He was sick of it. He realised he was being used. What could he do? Trish was also the CEO’s cousin and they were fast friends.

Should he speak about it? After all, they’ll ask, “Why have you been doing it for so long? Why now?” It looks bad on him too.

Nothing feels less Boundless than being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Notwithstanding John has built a rod for his own back, should he speak up? Is there a right time to do so?

In a report by Prof J Brown,  in the Australian Research Council project,  “Whistling While They Work 2: Improving managerial responses to whistleblowing in public and private organisations”, the research shows:

“Drawing on the experiences of 17,778 individuals across 46 organisations in Australia and New Zealand, the results showed that the grand majority – 81.6 per cent – of those who reported cases of unethical behaviour in their workplaces faced repercussions for speaking up, with 42 per cent of reporters feeling mistreated before their complaint.”

Speaking up doesn’t seem like a great option. The costs of not doing so are sometimes worse.

Here’s how to weigh the options:

Consider context. There’s other things going on. Our concerns aren’t the only things happening in the other person’s world. They have a set of priorities, opportunities, threats that are important too. How does this issue fit in comparison?

Timing matters. When we know what else is going on for the other person, then we can be sure there is enough time, attention available to hear our concerns.

Consider cravings. What really matters, matters. Each of us has fears, goals, and triggers. When we know these, we can proceed with caution.

Consider consequences. Be prepared for the fall out. Our interactions always have an effect. When we consider the impact before we speak up, we can prepare for it.

A match between cravings and context lets us know that it’s important enough to take action, and that the timing is right.

Commitment to action comes when we know it’s important and the time is right.

When we understand the lie of the land, and we are aware of the repercussions, it allows us to approach with due care.

John chose to speak up. He decided that the embarrassment of admitting he’d been complicit in enabling Tina’s poor behaviour was a price worth paying to release him from resentment. He wanted to be free from the shackles of obligation and half truths; he chose to be Boundless.

Consequences are real; know their impact. You may just have to let those sleeping dogs lie.

In your opinion, when should you NOT speak up? Is it worth the cost to your personal values?

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P.S. And when you’re ready, here are three ways I can help:

1. Grab a free copy of our Boundless Leadership Toolkit

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