I have sat through too many meals, meetings and events where I knew something was wrong. I was uncomfortable, or someone was wasting my time, or I knew that someone in the room was not being treated with respect. When I was young I sat there because I wasn’t sure what to do or how to handle it. As I gained experience I knew better and began to either avoid those places or learned how to walk away with my own dignity in tact.
I read a great quote by Tene Edwards, “You must find the courage to leave the table if respect is no longer being served.” Such a great reminder that we can’t expect people to respect us if we do not first respect ourselves. And we can’t respect ourselves if we let people walk all over us, or we sit there when we are being disrespected…yet it happens all the time.
We stay silent because we don’t know how to get up and not cause a scene. Or we don’t know how to stop the conversation without causing confusion. And even worse is when we sit there while someone else is being disrespected right before our eyes. It’s human nature to avoid conflict and yet by not speaking up we are only prolonging the pain. We know the right thing to do and lack the courage to actually do it. We want to be respected and think that by causing conflict or speaking up we are rocking the boat and will lose respect or credibility, when in actuality we gain more respect when we stand up for ourselves…but it still makes people uncomfortable.
Not everyone and everything will always make us comfortable. To get what we want we will have times when we have to stand up for what we believe, which means believing in it enough to act. It means believing that WE matter enough to stand up for ourselves and those we care about. It may mean stepping away from the table when it no longer serves what we need and not everyone will understand.
Know that you are worth the uncomfortable, the conflict and the confusion. Stand up for you and what you believe. Respect yourself so others can respect you as well.