Be a defender, not a bystander

By , November 26, 2013 6:29 am

I was driving past a high school last night and they had a big neon sign near the street that flashed “Be a defender,” then, “Not a bystander.”


Right away, I got that this was a bullying reference - a simple reminder to speak up when you see someone being bullied, and not just stand by, watching. What a great reminder, even if it’s easier said, than done. 

And while I saw this sign at a high school, and it’s obviously very important to teach kids about bullying, I don’t intend for this post to be about children. Because… I don’t have any, so what the eff do I know? Ha ha. What I was really thinking when I drove by that sign, was that while it was at a high school and was aimed toward kids, what a great reminder it is for random adults driving by, like myself. 

A great reminder for adults who are experiencing bullying (because while it may be more likely to happen in a school environment, that doesn’t mean it stops then) or, who just need the reminder to speak up, and defend something. Defend your principles, defend a company’s culture, defend your choice! 

I think we sometimes do need that reminder! A reminder that it’s okay to voice what you want, or that you are unhappy/uncomfortable with a situation. It doesn’t mean you will always get what you want, but it sometimes feels better to know you voiced your opinion.

Ha ha. And I am not trying to encourage being argumentative. Just speaking your mind, when appropriate, so you feel at ease with the situation you are in.

And that… is what I got out of seeing a flashing sign at 8:00 pm last night. Ha ha. 

Are you likely to speak up when you feel uncomfortable with something?

I am (unfortunately?) outspoken at times, and this actually got me in a bit of “trouble” last year. I wish I could share that story!

14 Responses to “Be a defender, not a bystander”

  1. Pete says:

    I speak my mind very readily. Too readily… And adult bullying happens all the time in the workplace. I’ve gotten in trouble more than a few time for speaking out about it too.

    • kilax says:

      Yeah, I had that in mind, but (ironically) feel I shouldn’t speak about it here.

      • Pete says:

        We just sat through a few hours of harassment training a few weeks ago. Many of the things I’ve had to put up with and that I watched others put up with are officially off-limits where I currently work.

        I was dreading the training before going, but left feeling pretty good about the company I work for! :)

  2. Anne says:

    I’ve been both sexually harassed and bullied once during my career. The sexual harassment happened a couple months after I started working for my company. The guy knew what he was doing, because I was really unlikely to say something. I was brand new, was being considered to be hired on permanently (as I was only a contractor at the time), and at only 23, just didn’t really know how the “real world” worked. I wish I had reported it, since I’m sure this asshat just bothered other women after me.

    The bullying was from a boss that I had for 5 months, and she just made my life miserable. I would be on the train to work and literally hope the train would derail or something, just so I didn’t have to deal with her for one day. I reported her to HR, but she had talked to them first (small company, so she was friends with the HR rep, sigh) so they thought the problem was that I was depressed, and referred me to EAP rather than addressing her behavior. I quit that job, and she did eventually get fired (for totally misusing her corporate card – they may have even sued her for those damages), but it’s so frustrating when you DO speak up but still can’t manage to be heard.

    But I do agree with your point, that it’s good to voice your concerns if you’re uncomfortable.

    • kilax says:

      I am so sorry the time you spoke up that it went so poorly. And that you had to deal with that asshat. Is he still at your office?!

  3. Michelle says:

    I’m not the BEST at saying how I feel in an uncomfortable situation, but I sure have gotten better this last year! Baby steps!

  4. Jobi says:

    I will speak up about things I feel very strongly about, however, I will also pick and choose whom I will speak up to. My mother and I get along fine, after a lot of fighting growing up, but she is one person I will rarely speak up to because she takes everything so personally and it’s not worth the awkward silence afterward. I don’t like confrontation and I think that’s the reason why most people won’t speak up about something. Don’t rock the boat! :-)

    • kilax says:

      I definitely know people like that. And actually, I hate that I have to tiptoe around things because of how sensitive some people are. But I do it.

      And I hate debating, so I am not saying go out there and rock the boat! Just speak up when something is really bothering you.

  5. Amy says:

    I don’t know, Kim…in an ideal world, it would be safe for everyone to voice their opinion, but I think in a lot of cases, it’s better just to keep silent.

    • kilax says:

      If something is really bothering someone, I do hope they would be able to say something about it. Everyone has different opinions on things and I dislike arguing so I generally keep those things to myself. But I always speak up if something is making me uncomfortable.

  6. Stephany says:

    I keep quiet more than I should. At my last job, I worked with a bully for a boss, who was demeaning and made me cry on more than one occasion. It was a very, very volatile environment. It was just one of those times where I wanted to speak up, but I also wanted my job so I kept my mouth shut and vented to coworkers but honestly, nobody should be treated the way this man treats his employees! I just wish I could get my other coworkers out of that awful situation.

    I think there are times when we need to speak up, and times when it’s best to keep silent. We just have to figure out the appropriate times, but I do think I am getting better at voicing my mind when something is bothering me, or someone said something that hurt my feelings.

    • kilax says:

      Oh my gosh! I am so happy you got out of there! Do you think your old coworkers are trying to, as well?

      I am happy you are getting better at voicing your mind when you need to! That is exactly what I meant with this post. Not to go around starting arguments for the sake of it (but you got that, lol).

  7. Erin says:

    I think so many times people are afraid to say something to someone because they either A. don’t think anyone will listen or B. are afraid of getting in trouble themselves. I’ve heard so many horror stories of people speaking up about a situation only to get shot down or told it’s no big deal. Thankfully I’ve never had to deal with that, really. I don’t know what I would do if I had a boss who was a bully!

    • kilax says:

      That does happen :( A lot of times, I feel better just for “having said my piece,” but I can recall times when I have just shut down because nothing was happening. Ugh!

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