Dear President Trump,
This morning I have three true stories for you, all of which I heard on the same day last week.
The first involves a woman who re-entered the work force a few years ago and whose talents have quickly become apparent. Recently her boss asked her to take over a poor-performing department with low morale. She told him she would take the position with two caveats: 1) she would not put up with anyone yelling at her, belittling her, or disrespecting her – if someone needed to give her feedback they were welcome to do so in a constructive, respectful manner, and 2) she planned to build up the department staff through encouragement, respect, and adequate training and she would not tolerate the boss undermining this work by coming in and telling them they are worthless drains on the system. The boss was stunned someone would be so bold as to stand up to him directly and he said as much as he reached over the desk to shake her hand and tell her she had a deal. He then went on to advocate that she get a substantial raise.
The second story also involves a woman standing up to a man. The woman has political beliefs that are at odds with her oldest brother’s, and he enjoys baiting her and picking fights. In a recent conversation this old dynamic predictably got going and, for the first time in their 60+ years of life together, the woman stepped out of role and said something to the effect of, “Hey, you’re baiting me, I don’t want to do this — let’s change the subject!” and they did.
The third story involves a woman, this time indirectly (but no less effectively), standing up to a man. The setting was a departmental meeting at which a junior person presented her committee’s findings on perceptions of diversity issues and how well (or poorly) they were handled in the past year. One of the elders attending the meeting looked at his phone during the entire presentation, not once feigning interest. At the end of the talk, another attendee stood up and thanked the speaker for the committee’s work and her presentation, saying that it made her newly aware of important issues and left her with lots to think about. This attendee requested that slides be made available for those who weren’t able to attend the meeting and for those who were on their phones not paying attention to the presentation.
May we all be safe to say what needs to be said.
May we all be willing to take such risks and willing to respect such risk-taking.
May we recognize that there are healthy shifts in power dynamics happening.
May we keep pushing to set new norms that support wellbeing and peace for all.