Six Steps for Taking a Stand

We’ve all been there. Whether in our career, business, or personal life, we’ve all encountered situations where someone is being, well, let’s say, unpleasant. They are trying to push you to do something you don’t want to do or they are questioning your work or they are dismissing your opinion or some other wonderful behavior.

It’s in such situations that good girls shake in their pink fuzzy booties while Bodacious Women decide to do something about it, booties or no booties. Here are my six steps to taking a stand that even a good girl can follow:

1. Trust your inner voice that says something’s not right.

If something feels wrong to you about a situation or person at work, it probably is. We may not know exactly why just yet, but the first step to effectively managing conflict is to believe that there’s a problem. Good girls tend to deny or minimize a problem. Bodacious Women don’t look away or pretend. They accept that a problem exists.

2. See the situation for what it is.

After you’ve accepted that a problem exists, back off from your frustration for the moment and use your head to paint as complete a picture as possible. Who are all the players or people involved? What are the facts of the situation (for example, he did this, then she said that, then I said…)? What underlying dynamics do you also see going on? Try to be as objective as possible at this point. It’s easy to get emotionally swept up and thrown off as you think through this. Resist that as much as possible.

3. Decide what you want.

Here’s where you first need to take a stand with yourself. In almost all the conflicts we have, there is usually some aspect that attacks our sense of self-worth or self-esteem. Standing up for yourself first means you internally reject negative, critical messages from others as true, and believe that you are a person worth being treated with respect.

Now that you’re clear about being treated with respect, what do you want to be different in this situation? Is there a specific behavior you want the other person to demonstrate? Is there a specific decision or result you want in your favor? Be as specific as possible, because when you are, you’re more likely to get it.

4. Decide how you’re going to interact with this person.

Determine what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. If you’re saying something in person, write it out and say it out loud. Start with a statement of your main point, pause, and then add backup information of what you mean and why you feel the way you do. No need to over explain.

Practice in front of mirror, then on a trusted friend who can give you feedback. Get used to the wording so that it flows without having to look down at your paper. If you’re writing an e-mail or letter, write it once, then put it aside and read it again later. Is it clear? Is it too long? Would the person know how you want them to respond? Again, ask a friend to put their eyes on it and get feedback.

5. Do it!

You just gotta get started and do it! I know that taking a stand in person is a tough thing to do; yet often it’s the most effective way to get your needs met. I also know we have to face our fears head on. One thing that helps me is to focus on the fact that I can’t fail. Why? Because the fact is, I didn’t shrink from the uncomfortable situation, I demonstrated my self-respect, and I’m doing something about it.

6. Expect some pushback and then respond.

Once you’ve determined what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it, anticipate the response. If you’re addressing one person, come up with at least two ways he or she may respond. How will you reply? If it’s a small group, consider at least one response for each person.

After using this checklist a few times, you’ll find that taking a stand will come much easier for you and eventually will be an automatic reaction. It’s conditioning and it’s personal power. Start exercising it!

Copyright (c) 2007 Mary Foley