Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Speak Up or Shut Up?

Navigation can be a hectic thing. Left, right or strait? When there are two ways or three ways which one do you take?

More than once in my life I have watched as the person navigating took us on a longer or less efficient route. Then inevitably I would point the finger later when the mistake was realized. In my head the reason I point out the error is so that we do not repeat the mistake again. However, I think I come across pretty mean as a know it all or better than thou.

I'm not sure what to do in this situation. Do I just plain say "we're going this way because your way is wrong." Because I don't want to say that. It will probably make the other person really mad. Do I just take their directions and see what happens?

I was on a backpacking trek once and we were planning to camp at this little abandoned house. There was a push within the group to head cross country using a compass. I suggested that we hike down the road until a steam and then hike up the stream. I prefer to follow features on the map instead of bushwacking with a compass. However, I didn't want to push my point and thus shut up. Over the course of three miles you can end up way off course. Inevitably using the compass we ended up in the wrong place and spent a lot of extra hours hiking.

What am I supposed to do? I learned in the past that unless the navigator is taking illegal drugs or taking us somewhere dangerous we were supposed to follow like sheep. The problem is that getting lost takes a lot of time and energy. More than a discussion beforehand.

Another example that has happened in my life is listening to two people argue, when I know they are both wrong. It's surprising how often this happens. Is it better for me to interrupt and let them know the facts or sit there and let them be wrong?

Another factor to this whole speak up or shut up debate is that what if I am wrong? I mean let's say I'm 99.9% confident. That means I could be wrong. Speaking up, and speaking wrong is a sure fire way to end your credibility.

The examples of navigation and two wrong people are just examples. This extends to so many other areas. When is it necessary to correct the boss? Is it ever necessary to correct the boss? Is the customer always right? Is bending the rules ethical? Is bending the laws legal?

Of course, this will always be situation dependent. Sometimes it is better to speak up and others it is better to shut up. The question I am asking is: how do you know which kind of time it is? Is there any sort of overriding guidelines that will suggest either way?

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