Call Out the Nonsense – Don't Ignore It

Taking no action helps bad behavior thrive

Whether it comes from business dealings or personal relationships, when you see someone else’s baggage, stop turning away from it. Instead, look at the situation more closely. Most people want to walk away as if it didn’t happen – that’s the problem today. Too many people would rather pretend that everything is ok. Maybe out of disbelief they convince themselves, oh, that didn’t just happen — she didn’t really say that. Then you do the double take.

Let yourself witness the chaos. Let your skin crawl. Let your ears shriek when you hear it. And remember to high-five your sixth sense for kicking in to warn you.

Say it’s the narcissistic boss on his usual 2 p.m. power trip; or the dramatic coworker adept at ego stroking in exchange for favors – and don’t forget the passive-aggressives who problem-solve via bullying. At home, it’s generally the manipulative significant other who masterfully pulls the veil over your trusting eyes.

But it’s hard to ignore the damage other people cause — especially if they get away with it unscathed. The “it’s not fair” voice of justice rears its head, while its counter voice retorts, “life is not fair. Buck up.”

Naturally, the average human simply buries his head in the sand as a coping mechanism. But at the end of the day — when you ignore wrongdoing and toe the line, you fuel the vicious cycle. 

Think about how often most people consent to verbal abuse and rants because they fail to confront it. Recall the glazed over eyes when someone steals credit — or fails to give it. Taking no action helps it thrive.

Maybe they tricked or jokingly threatened you. Ok fine, here’s a tissue. Now it’s time to wake the eff up.  And speak up.

This is not the kind of workplace problem that fixes itself with pep talks and free bagels. The problem is embedded in our culture—at home and work.  The fix requires everyone to recognize the problem so that more people take a stand.

There's no easy way to drag yourself through the hell that goes with all the bullshit you experience in a lifetime. But eventually you have to learn to call it what it is. Bullshit. As scary as it is—especially if the other person dishing it out is in a position of power—at some point people need to stand up and step into their courage.

Otherwise, you risk being the pawn. You risk losing your power. You risk being unhappy and not knowing entirely why your life sucks. Ultimately you sacrifice your confidence and the things that make you, you.  If you remain silent long enough, soon you might become the target — the one whose ideas, thoughts and opinions are devalued.

No doubt, it will take lots of thought and possibly a strategic plan to devise a method for calling bullshit.  It may require creating some allies and a stealthy approach. Take some time to strategize, but don’t stall.

Time rarely shrinks unresolved problems.

Whether the nonsense happens in personal or business dealings, the first step is to create awareness. By the way, if it happens at home, it may be just as pervasive at work.

Set your fears aside. Then ask yourself how to change it. If it means taking a risk, find the bleeding edge and take it there. If you need to assemble a meeting, book a conference room. If you need legal counsel call an attorney. If it means leaving the job, write the resignation letter. (Give it 24 hours before you deliver it.)  If it causes heartbreak, be the heartbreaker.

When it feels like you are closing doors—just close them because new ones will open.

In the end, it boils down to finding the courage to be brave. Once you learn to master that skill, you will start to trust yourself more and make better decisions. You will start to listen to that little voice that guides you to the right solutions. Essentially, you will strengthen your intuition—that gut feeling—and that’s one of your greatest assets.

Know that you have the power to change the wrongs. Always pick your battles wisely, but never be afraid to call bulls*** the next time it shows up.  Making tough decisions is gut wrenching. But once you do it—it gets easier.

Each time you take a stand, remember you have something incredibly valuable to gain:   Self-empowerment and freedom.

Categories: Management & Leadership