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Last week I was excited about attending a local workshop and performance. Having scheduled it in my calendar, I showed up slightly early and paid my workshop fee. After about twenty minutes, the teachers arrived and waited for a short while hoping more people would attend. Eventually, they decided that there weren’t enough people in attendance to financially make the workshop worth holding, informed us of their decision, and they packed up and left. We were all stunned.

The stressed organizer of the event jumped in to provide an alternate class for the students. However, there were some students who were angry and complained to him about their disappointment and inconvenience. He immediately offered a full refund for the workshop. Some people walked out. I decided to stay and make the most of the time I was there.

Afterwards, the teachers sent a Facebook message to say that the organizer had not shown the commitment and dedication to promoting the event that they had expected. They blamed him for failing to show them due respect and a lack of professionalism(!). They posted a similar message on their Facebook wall, but removed it after a while. Clearly, they had spoken out publicly against him, and they acted publicly by abandoning their students at their own workshop.

I had never wanted to know anything about their behind the scenes business and marketing efforts. But I got dragged into it simply by having to witness their public display of rejection when they walked out on the workshop, their negative post and blaming message sent directly to me.

Since the organizer’s reputation and character were now tarnished by the failed workshop and accusations by the teachers, I had a choice to make:

  • Speak up about what I saw, heard and knew to be true
  • Keep quiet and stay out of it

retro-images-Graphics-Fairy004I had a choice to make:

Speak up about what I saw, heard and knew to be true, or keep quiet and stay out of it.

If you’ve ever been in a situation like this, then you know you can have several conflicting thoughts and emotions swirling inside of you. Thoughts like . . .

I don’t want to get involved. But I’m already involved. I can’t unsee what I saw and unhear what I heard.

What will people think of me if I speak up? What will they think of me if I don’t? That I was afraid? That I agree with the teachers’ accusations? That I think it’s okay to drop your commitments to students who are supporting you and have taken the time, energy and money to show up for you?

Isn’t this between the two of them? Shouldn’t I stay out of it? If only the teachers had kept their negotiations private. If only they hadn’t acted publicly and sent damaging messages out on Facebook. If only they hadn’t stiffed me and the other students at their own workshop, when it was clear that they were fully prepared, and were leaving only because they wanted more money.

But weren’t they justified because it was strictly business? Business deals are spelled out clearly in advance, and take into consideration all parties involved. They failed to deliver on their promise to me as a student. Even when things go wrong, “the show must go on.” How would I feel if by keeping quiet this happened to someone else? What if they found out later that I already knew this could happen, but I never said anything? They might think I was withholding valuable information.

What if people see me as a “complainer”? What will happen to my reputation? While it’s true that some people will always try to give you a hard time about speaking up, you don’t need to listen to them. You need to take care of yourself. You have a right to speak up if you think you’ve been mistreated. Anyone who discourages you from respectfully speaking up for yourself is no friend to you.

In the end, the organizer posted a Facebook message himself to try to clear his name that had been publicly besmirched. There were many people who supported him, but there were still a few who discouraged him. Since most of it was speculation, I decided to post. I posted because I was there, I was affected, they failed to deliver, they never acknowledge their mistake, and because I know this organizer well, and I have a number of friends who I would hate to see “get taken”.

Have you ever been in a situation where you hesitated to speak up? Did you finally speak up or did you keep quiet? Tell us why you made that choice in the comment section below.