How to be true to yourself

May 31, 2012
Thanks, Mary Costanza, for this!

I’ve always lived by this creed and have the reputation to prove it.

One day at work, an elderly redneck client told a racist joke at a meeting in the presence of an African American colleague of mine.  Everyone ignored it, even other colleagues. I was not present.

Later, my colleague told me that of the people we worked with, he believed that only I and one other person would have called the client out at the meeting.

I don’t know about the others, but I definitely would not have let the joke go unchallenged. Here’s what’s true: if we don’t stand up in the face of inappropriate behavior, the perpetrator will think that behavior is ok.

Yes, many people are frightened to challenge someone else. Some are especially reluctant when a client (and his revenue) are involved.

Which says as much about the organization as it does about the perpetrator and the scared silent colleagues.

The Transportation Safety Administration has been much in the news lately for the completely inappropriate behavior of some of its screeners.  I used to suspect that those who complained were exaggerating. No more. I admire them for raising a stink about these idiotic, out-of-control screeners and the uninvolved management –our government–that lets them get away with it.

In the Bay area, a sheriff’s neighbor called police when the sheriff’s wife appeared at his door, bruised and complaining her husband had abused her. Believe it or not, the neighbor has faced some criticism for calling police. The sheriff hadn’t yet been sworn in and shockingly, shortly thereafter
he was.

If you have a chance to step up and point out a wrong in the interest of making a right (then, or one day in the future), I hope you will find the courage to do so.

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