• Rebecca Cooley

Speak up, Speak out

by REBECCA COOLEY





What are you most afraid to say?

To whom?


There are so many reasons why we stay quiet.

So many reasons that we choose silence.


Sometimes it feels like silence isn’t a choice.

That others are expecting us to keep voiceless.

That the consequences of speaking up and speaking out are overwhelming or overpowering.

We weigh the risk and cost of speaking our truth and fear kicks in.



There have been so many reasons in my life why I have kept silent about things that mattered.

There have been people telling me my whole life to stay quiet about so many things.


I know I'm not alone in the experience. I see it all the time. Hear of it from my colleagues and my friends.


I hear about the workplace bullies who use emotional manipulation or threaten loss of jobs if you speak up ...

The society that encourages silence ...

The families that guilt and shame their members into silence...


The bullies benefit from the silence.

They benefit from the power they hold over others, power made possible by silence, emotional manipulation and fear tactics.



But what is the cost to those who keep quiet in the face of injustice?

those who stay voiceless when either ourselves or others are being harmed?

those who don’t speak up when people in the workplace are being verbally assaulted by their supervisors, yelled at and cursed at?

those who turn the other way when they witness violence privately or publicly?


I don’t blame these innocent victims, we each must make our own choices about speaking up and when and if.


But there is a cost to staying quiet and it's very real.


There are things we need to say in our society

in our families

in our workplaces.


Too much has been left unsaid and it’s time to speak up as individuals and make things right where and when we can.



Believe me I understand the reasons we stay quiet. I understand all too well why silence is chosen, and why I have personally chosen silence in many instances.

I understand the debilitating fear.

I understand the worry and the concern of being ostracized.

I understand all too well what happens when you speak up at work or at home.


The fears are founded.

You may lose your job.

You may lose your family.

You may lose your friends.

You may lose a lot.

All can be lost in this world when we go against the grain and go against societal conditioning to stay small and stay quiet.


You see that’s how the conditioning works...

It’s how it keeps you silent.


It focuses on the punitive

on what you will lose.


There is so little positive reinforcement focusing on what you will gain.


So here it is… Here's the positive:

Your self-respect

Your dignity

Your courage

Your strength

Your confidence

Your personal sense of power

Your knowing that you do make a difference to yourself, to others, to your community

Your understanding just how powerful your voice is




I do not blame or seek to push those who are not ready to speak up to say what needs to be said.

I would never do that.

After all, for some things, it has taken me over thirty years to speak up and speak out.


But if you can see the harm in the silence,

if you can see the cost of keeping quiet and not speaking up or speaking out,

if you know you are ready to speak up and speak out...