Don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard. Those who want to silence you only do so because they’re afraid of your power.
— buzzhearts.com (from Facebook feed)
I have always been one to stand up for myself.
There have been many times when I’ve let myself be taken for granted, or when I have been poorly treated because I let that happen by not standing my ground or speaking up. In every case, I have berated myself afterwards — rather severely.
The incidents range from minor, trivial matters through to major, life-changing ones (although I am happy to say I have not experienced the latter).
♦ I do not like eating meat when it is pink. I like my meat well-done. On the very rare occasion, I order a meat meal in a restaurant. I always ask for it to be served well-done. I don’t care if the chef doesn’t want to do it this way; I’m paying for this. If it is pink in the middle when it arrives, I send it back. I don’t like pink meat, so why should I put up with it to make the chef’s life easier? (If it comes out tough and chewy, I will also send it back. It is possible to cook a piece of meat to a tender well-done.)
♦ Sometimes a product ordered online arrives in a slightly less than pristine condition, or it may be the wrong colour or design. I know people who say, ‘Oh, it’s fine. I’ll put up with it. It’s more hassle to send it back.’ Garbage!! I paid for this product and I want it to be perfect, or as ordered. The more people who accept poor quality, the more likely companies are to provide it.
♦ I have worked in schools where you are expected, 100%, to tow the party line. Of course, this has its benefits. But, there have been occasions when I know a particular strategy or timetabled decision will not work for my class. Sometimes they go against my pedagogical beliefs. I have gone against a Principal’s decree that the first two hours of the morning MUST be Literacy and the middle session MUST be Maths. One of my classes needed to do P.E. first thing in the morning. They achieved so much more in 90 minutes, after physical activity, than in 120 minutes, sans activity. Another class performed so much better in Maths if we did it in the afternoon (they were an odd group). Yes, I was questioned about it. I was told NOT to do it; I was ordered to change my timetable. I gave the evidence, I stood my ground. And they backed down; my students benefited.
I have always considered my daughter to be resilient and able to stand up for herself. (She certainly does with us!)
So, I was amazed when she came home from school the other day and said that she would have to take the mouthpiece of her own (very expensive) tenor saxophone to school each day because the school saxophone we hired did not have a ligature. (A ligature is a vital piece because it holds the reed on, and without a reed there is no sound.) Apparently, she was told there was nothing that could be done so she had to bring in her own mouthpiece.
She accepted this!!
Well, I didn’t. This then caused an argument along the lines of: ‘Well, if you won’t let me take my mouthpiece, then I won’t be able to play, then I’ll fail band.’
Sorry, but that’s a load of rot.
I don’t know if I was more annoyed at the teacher who told her this, or at my daughter for not pushing for a proper mouthpiece. (Probably the teacher, my daughter is only in Year 8 and I have taught her to respect her teachers to their faces, no matter what she thinks of them.)
Anyway, I promptly sent a polite email (I edited it, so it was) to said teacher. I pointed out that we were very appreciative of the fact that a hire saxophone had been located, but I felt that as we were paying for the hire, we should get the whole instrument. I added that her own saxophone was extremely expensive, and that taking only the mouthpiece to and from school would significantly increase the likelihood of loss and/or damage so I would not be allowing her to bring it to school, and can the school please ensure a ligature is found. Thank you very much.
My daughter watched me type this, muttering, ‘It won’t make any difference. She said I would have to put up with it.’
Less than half an hour later I received a reply. ‘We absolutely understand. A complete mouthpiece will be found for her tomorrow. Thank you for your email.’
My daughter and I then talked at length about how important it is to stand up for yourself, and make sure you are not a push-over. It is possible to get what you need without being rude about it.
I don’t care if people think I am pushy. I know I am reasonable. I don’t ask for the world. But, if I know something is not right, and I know I am justified in my requests or my opinions, I will speak up.