To Speak Up or Not to Speak Up...

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To Speak Up or  Not to Speak Up...

When is it appropriate to tell someone they are completely wrong?

By Maan Jalal

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Published: Sat 29 Oct 2016, 12:08 PM

Last updated: Thu 3 Nov 2016, 5:11 PM

A few weeks ago I was helping a friend purchase a bunch of children's toys for a few birthday parties she was invited to. While she spoke to one of the staff about what was trending among five year old girls, I, understandably, got bored and wandered away. I found myself in the Lego section, enamored with bright colours and Jurassic Park themed toys.

'Why were you late? Don't tell me you don't know!'

I looked up to find a senior staff member reprimanding a junior staff member. He was pointing his finger at her and while she looked up at him terrified and upset. I found the scene incredibly disturbing. I made a point to walk up to them and tell the man that it wasn't right for him to be yelling at another staff member so aggressively in public with children around.

Now, fast forward a few weeks, where I was at an event for the launch of a new hair product to help people with early hair loss and hair damage. One of the speakers at the event spoke with a lot of zest and passion about his experience with this particular brand and then stated that for him, personally, starting to loose his hair at a young age was worse than being diagnosed with cancer. The atmosphere in the room shifted. The speaker, though, seemed oblivious and continued to elaborate on his point.

None of the fifty or so people in the room said a word to him. Not even me. After the event I thought about approaching the man to make a polite point that what he said was insensitive. But I didn't and I regret it.

For many people it's easy to reprimand someone for being in the wrong when that person is a staff member in the world of service and hospitality - a waiter, a hostess, a concierge. However when someone isn't in the service industry, why is it suddenly different?

Would it have been appropriate for me to raise my hand in the question portion of the event and point to the error the man had made? Should I have found him after the event and had a private word? Should I just tweet about it? Where should the line be drawn when it comes to confrontations?

Whenever I remember the incident I get very frustrated for not having said anything. And although it can be argued that writing this is a form of speaking out, some how I think the man in question will still be oblivious to how foolish he sounded that day.

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