Thursday, November 15, 2007

To speak or not....

Have you ever been in a position where one action of yours could affect someone else's life in a big way? This person may or may not be a very close friend [I suppose that would play a very important role in your decision].

At times like this, it's like the two opposing decisions, action and inaction, both struggle ferociously to supersede each other. And in this conflict the question of choosing the right rears its head, so what do you do?

Take the easy way out or go for the tougher one?

When you are in a dilemma- do you choose to be comfortable or do you take the more difficult path.

It's easy to be silent and tell yourself you don't want to interfere in other people's lives and that you have no business minding other people's business especially when that means getting out of your comfort zone and being in the position where you have to be the one who gets to do the 'unpleasant' task. But the question still remains whether you are not interfering because you want to stay out of a messy business and not be responsible for possibly disastrous consequences or because you actually not the interfering sort. Of course if its the action that matters than your reasons for doing or not doing don't really count just the consequence of the action.

I think the one question to ask would be what would you want the other person to do if you were in their position. Would you want to hear the unpleasant truth? Is it wise to say what's on your mind or hold back because you don't know what the repercussions would be if you opened your mouth?


Michelle said...

Oh boy! This is a hard one! I sit with one at the moment. I know a mutual "someone" who repeatedly says very nasty things about her sibling. Her sibling is my friend. Do I tell and start a family war? Do I keep quiet? So far I've kept quiet, but mostly because I the whole family knows that the sister spreading tales is an a$$ and I think the sibling wouldd be sad, but not surprised, by her actions.

BUT... once I kept my mouth shut and regretted it. When I was in college a close friend was dating an older man. He gave her fancy gifts, visited her family, gave her an engagement ring. Then a guy I knew warned me that this man was married with sons our age. I was stunned. How could the guy ask my friend to marry him when he was already married? I couldn't believe it - I just didn't want to believe it really.

So I kept quiet.

It turned out to be true and my friend got badly hurt. Since she also found out that my male friend worked for her "Fiance" she kind of guessed that I might have known. She never mentioned it directly, but she hinted that I'd let her down, been a traitor.

It's a lousy place to be in - knowing something bad. THen there's also the times when you feel something needs saying that will be taken as negative or bad. I have struggled through a few of those by "wrapping" them in loads of extra compliments or praise. Kind of like "You're such a mature person and I admire you, so I know you won't be offended if I tell you that ***** is something I don't like about you, but otherwise I think you're great."

A bit of a "wimp" way of giving bad news, but it usually confuses them enough to give you time to escape when they do figure it out and get angry/upset. ;-)

Jay Cam said...

i dont think i've been in that situation before...

of course i've been in positions where i could have affected MY life in a big way... but that doesn't really count, does it?

Chad said...


Found you on the MBBB List Congrats on the new hat and making the top five! And as for the decisions, I wish I could say I make the 'hard' ones, but I always take the easy way out.

Josie Two Shoes said...

I think you are on the right track with trying to do what you would want a friend to do for you. So much depends upon the situation and what is at stake. If it's just someone talking bad about this person, it probably isn't life-threatening or something they need to know or could do that much about, but if it is about a relationship where your friend doesn't have all the facts they need, maybe it is time to enlighten them. Such decisions are always so hard, because they can backfire either way. Me, I would want to be told, no matter what, but some people prefer the comfort of living in the dark. I believe that you do have the courage and the wisdom to make the right decision and follow thru.

Ingrid said...

There are so many things to consider, Amber. First, what kind of information is it that you have and how confident you are in your knowledge before you say something. If there is any room for error or for ambiguity, I would think twice before talking.

Second, consider the person who would be affected by this information. Is this someone close to you? Are you prepared to deal with the repercusions of your disclosure? How do you think this person would react? Will they believe you? Would their lives be endangered if you do not tell? All of this needs to be taken into account.

Mark Dykeman said...

Generally speaking I would always try to follow the Golden Rule. But sometimes you just can't intervene, particularly in a business situation. Which sucks.

Dawn said...

There is no clear cut answer to this question... I usually keep quiet unless I feel this person will be better off knowing - Even if that means ruining a friendship. I guess it depends on what's at stake. If I thought it were life threatening or character damaging... I would take my chances and speak up. Otherwise... I would probably stay silent.

Greg said...

Thinking about intent is what makes questions troublesome. Intent does nothing in any real sense except create more opportunity to think about things.

If you want to move in a particular direction, like toward a goal, then decisions must be based on actions. This includes being a certain type of person.

We discussed teaching briefly, and I mentioned that people cannot be taught. They have to discover truth on their own. So I can create a perfect argument for action over intent, but I can never expect to teach you anything. You have to discover what is correct on your own. Of course I could manipulate your behavior, but that is something completely different.

So find two situations that are similar. Act based on intent in one, and act based on action in the other and see what happens.

As general advice: people what to stay in the personal worlds they create and don't like outside interference even when it is for their own good. This goes back to the fact that you can't teach people. They will evolve in their own time if you just let them be. They might get hurt, but that is part of growth. Sometimes the best lesson is to let someone touch fire.

And who is to say they won't like fire? We each have a personal morality that shouldn't be extended to anyone else. Unless you have something to gain or lose, let people be.

derick said...

act as you would like to be treated and make sure you are in integrity and then the right decision will flow from that.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

It's simple to take the easy way, but would we like something more challenging?

Peter Haslam said...

Some lessons can only be learnt the hard way. When we intervene then we assume we know the perfect solution. Having said that it would then depend on my relationship with that person. Tough call.

QUASAR9 said...

Horses for courses.
Though I may have just as many 'principles' I behold as most people, I'm also fully aware that none are 'absolute'

Tell a friend her/his partner is cheating. Well you risk not being thanked.

Tell the taxman or IRS that someone is cheating on his/her taxes. You certainly will NOT be thanked.

Lie to persecutors if you are harbouring someone being persecuted. Who are the persecutors, and why is the person being persecuted?

Tell someone you'll love them forever. Well saying it is easy, holding true to the word is another thing. The best we can do is be true to the moment, love them in the here and now. Tomorrow who knows ... or should/could/would I dare say Tomorrow God knows whether I'll love her or not. And I am not god.

paisley said...

i was in fact placed in this position just today... not with a friend... but rather with my mother.. i decided to email her and say,, i have to voice my opinion on this,, i will make one statement and not open the topic for discussion... i said my piece,, and left it at that...

i have used this method with her before,, as i feel it is only right that i say something,,, but a discussion would get us no where.....

Rambler said...

I have been in that situation so many times, and I have done all the alternatives you have mentioned, I mean I just went on my instincts, in few cases, I let them do what they think is right, sometimes it is very good if people learn it the hard way, sometimes I have gone out of my way to stop them and let them know what I fell, and someother times I have been stuck, just stuck.

B said...

it's simple for me I believe in truth 100 % always and I respect those who act in that manner

Anonymous said...

that is a hard one. like living next door to someone putting up with abuse and violence and not reporting it..or knowing someone is being unfaithful to their partner and not telling the partner.. like some of your commenters can go either way. the person can thank you for it..or they will end up hating you for it.. but if you do what you feel is right..then that is all that matters.

The Real Mother Hen said...

I like quasar9's answer.

Actually this reminds me of something. It is about if you witness an accident and you're the only witness, would you tell the truth? Most westerners say yes *and* they laugh at Asians and Middle-easterners for not wanting to even come forward. So I changed the question to "if your son hits the other person's car, no eyewitness but you, would you tell the truth?"
Guess what, even westerners keep quiet on this!

Amel's Realm said...

LOVE this post, Amber!

I did speak up my mind once about something to one of my closest friends 'coz from my point of view, she seemed to be heading to a cliff...I just wanted her to know that she knew about that and that she was willing to take the risks. I never regretted that decision and I'm glad to say that she didn't take my words the wrong way. I'm more glad to say that it didn't turn out to be as bad, even though the problems are still there, maybe 'coz she's been ready to accept the prices she has to pay. ;-D

Ricardo said...

Move with caution on this. I did this with a former best friend and he turned on me and didn't invite me to his wedding. He totally freaked out and never told me how badly it affected him.

He had become depressed and had put on weight and was acting odd. The marriage seemed like he was looking for a quick fix to his woes. I told him, he went crazy.

But even though the friendship imploded, I still feel good that I spoke up when no one else would. It got me nothing in the end but I said what I had to say.

Be careful with this one.

Random Magus said...

Michelle: The thing is, when I discovered what I did, I was not that friendly with this person and now slowly I am getting to know them better. I don't want to be responsible for the consequences so I think I'll just keep my mouth shut.

Jay Cam: This is the first time I have been in a situation like this myself.

Chad: Hey thanks for visiting

Josie Two Shoes: My hubby thinks that I should not get involved - it was easier before when I didn't know the person now as I grow familiar it's becoming tough.

Ingrid: It's not something that's life threatening or anything like that but it is a betrayal of trust. Unfortunately it is something I saw with my own eyes so there is little room for error.

Mark Dykeman: I am going to keep out of it as long as I can.

Dawn: I too hate to intrude in other people's personal life. I don't ask too many questions or get involved. The thing is that I can't be sure that this person will be better off knowing.

They have to discover truth on their own.

This is what I think as well and until they do, they will never be prepared to accept it and hate the messenger not that I care about that, but I definitely don't want to be the sanctimonious righteous one trying to set the record straight.

derick: That's just it, I don't know what I would want were I in the same position.

Jean-Luc Picard: As long as it doesn't affect someone else's life too drastically. Then being responsible is a scary thing.

Random Magus said...

Peter Haslam: I think you are so right. I actually didn't have a personal relationship with this person not a deep one. Now I am getting a bit closer so it has become a tad bit haunting.

QUASAR9: The burden of ruining someone's life and relationship is a big one and so the decision is one that is fraught with danger.

paisley: I'm by nature a person who likes to avoid confrontations and conflicts and don't know know how to handle them, especially face to face. So I totally get what you're talking about.

Rambler: You are damned if you do damned if you don't

B: I know what you are saying but the question here is not about telling a truth v/s telling a lie. It's about revealing something which will cause consequences you are not aware off.

JYankee: And who am I to interfere...

The Real Mother Hen: I get that! And everyone deserves a second chance right?

Amel's Realm : For you it was a very close friend and the stakes are different. I know it sounds hypocritical but if it was my very close friend I would feel like a traitor if I kept quiet. But this is not the same case. I am just not sure that I have the right to ruin someone else's life with my notion of what is right or wrong earlier on I would not have debated about this but as time progresses I find myself face to face with the truth that we all have different truths.

Ricardo: I remember you had blogged about this as well. This is what I am scared off, although I am more of a casual friend to this person, I don't want to be someone who ruins their life because of a personal sense of right and wrong, which I now realize is something that's different for everyone and I have no business affecting their life because of what I think is the right thing to do.

Ricardo said...

If it's an acquaintance then let bygones be bygones. I can see this whole thing blowing up.

Life will sort them out in it's own way.

Random Magus said...

That's what I am going to do... my only dilemma is that as I get closer to this person, it becomes something that' difficult to do.

meleah rebeccah said...


Well, I have found myself butting into other peoples business from time to time, and there are times when people butt into my life.

Sometimes I stay quite and other times, I dont.

It really depends on the people involved and the exact circumstance.

Ricardo said...

Getting closer? The disaster may be be unavoidable I'm afraid.

I just hope if you do say something this person does not go crazy and start telling everyone that "Amber is evil, don't talk to her, she was rude to me" stuff.

It's just a disaster from there on out.

Random Magus said...

meleah: I think this time I'm just going to stay out of it - it is a potentially explosive situation and I'm in no frame of mind to be burnt...

Ricardo: This is one of the reasons I'm a bit hesitant in pursuing the friendship