During the past year, I have been faced with a very stressful work situation. As a social worker in a non-profit, I came to understand that there has been some serious mismanagement within our agency, resulting in clients not receiving adequate services and staff feeling fearful of retaliation if they spoke up.
In past situations, when I have felt that social injustice was occurring, I tended to get very angry and not be able to channel my energies very well. Instead, I would vent my anger in a very non-productive way and leave the setting feeling dissatisfied and frustrated. Sometimes I would bottle it up inside of me and not say anything at all. Although I felt confident that shining the light on some of the social injustices was the ‘right’ thing to do, I too was worried that my job could be at risk.
As a result of attending Respectful Confrontation, I realized how important it was to speak my truth in a respectful manner. When I communicated with the board, I used some of my new tools, like the Four Pillars of True Power. This helped me to deliver a clear message and not get derailed when I was met with resistance. I made sure to speak about feelings and needs and not make demands that would threaten. The more I spoke out, the more I realized that taking a non-aggressive stance, yet still confronting the wrongdoing, was in itself a victory.
The people that pulled me aside and tried to intimidate me had very little power over me, because the tools of Respectful Confrontation gave me the skills and courage I needed to follow through.
Since first speaking out, there have been some positive changes. Our board meetings are now open to the public for the first time in twenty-seven 27 years. The board members finally did a formal performance evaluation of our Executive Director, which led to her being rightfully fired. They also began a major restructuring of the agency, which will benefit an entire community that relies on our agency.
I can’t believe how effective I was. The tools of Respectful Confrontation supported me in speaking my truth, and benefiting many people.