Lesson 49: Dont hold back; tell us how you really feel.

Published 6:44 pm Monday, November 23, 2009

Be forthright in dealing with others. Just as you should always do what needs to be done, you should always say what needs to be said.
Weve talked before about honesty, but forthrightness goes beyond honesty. Forthrightness is speaking out when it isnt easy telling someone what they need to hear, even if it might hurt.
Some things are hard to say, but you should say them anyway. Thats part of what it means to be a friend.
One big reason to be forthright is to avoid the phenomenon known as groupthink. Groupthink is the tendency of a group work team, committee, family, or social group to make poor decisions because nobody in the group is willing to speak up in opposition to a bad idea.
The Challenger Space Shuttle disaster is one well-known and tragic example of groupthink. Even though engineers recommended against launching the Challenger in the frigid temperatures of January, the committee responsible for the final decision brushed off the concerns, in the process sending seven astronauts to their deaths.
Young people in social settings often find themselves in groupthink situations what your parents refer to as peer pressure. Parents worry that teenagers will make bad decisions about drinking, drugs, and sex because they arent yet confident or secure enough to speak up against groupthink. As everyone knows, failure to speak up can have dire consequences for a kid.
The consequences dont get any less important as you progress through adulthood, but your capacity to speak up for yourself improves. Many times you will doubtless find yourself in a difficult position, where those around you are in agreement but you strongly disagree. Youll know that you should speak up, but youll also know it will be risky. What will you do?
This can get tricky, because there may be a point beyond which you shouldnt carry your case. Where is that point, and how will you know when you get there? Thats something youll have to decide in each situation. One things for sure, though: youre always better off saying what you think. You cant count on anybody else to.

Excerpted from The Graduates Book of Practical Wisdom: 99 Lessons They Cant Teach in School by C. Andrew Millard, published by Morgan James Publishing, available in bookstores and online. &opy; 2008 by C. Andrew Millard; all rights reserved. For more information visit www.wisegraduate.com.
~ Advice for the Young written by Andy Millard

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