On Public Hearings

If you’re a typical American, you’ve at least been peeking at the nightly news to get the day’s summary of the Supreme Court appointment debacle. Confession time: I am not a typical American. I’m a political junkie. And, I’ve run for office. (If you know me, you know why I did it. If you don’t, let’s just say that the debate part was the attractor. I didn’t want a job that paid only slightly more than I could have made flipping burgers.) And, I used to be a family therapist. Who testified in a few-too-many court cases involving molested children and survivors from teens to mature adults.

So, I’ve been getting a lot of phone calls recently. They divide into two major groups. The first, as you can probably imagine, have been the survivors. They’re all re-traumatized by the anger and denial of the ‘alleged perpetrator’ (as they used to say on Dragnet,) but worse – far, far worse for most – is the denial of the bystanders (in this case, the old boys’ club at the Senate.) Turns out that watching and doing nothing – and worse, expressing anger at the bravest ones who disclose – is even more traumatizing that you might think.

So, what’s this got to do with my usual subjects of leadership and teaming? Here’s the takeaway.

Everything that happens in every business, every single day, is a kind of public hearing. And it’s one that you can’t get away from just by changing the channel. Even if you’ve got earplugs stuffed in your ear canals, or you’ve turned your tunes to maximum volume, the vibes are there. It’s happening. And if it’s abusive, dismissive, prejudiced, offensive, or outright criminal, do something. Be a good citizen. Yell and tell. And, sad to say, HR might not be the best place to go. Try someone whose actions won’t cause them to put their own job at risk.

But yell. Ok, not literally, try an email, or whatever your company has that passes for reporting. But don’t forget the state licensing authorities if this is someone with a professional license, the board of directors (assuming it’s an inclusive one, which admittedly is a slim possibility,) your news outlets (assuming your location still has a newspaper,) and the growing organizations dedicated to yelling and telling.

It’s all a public hearing. And in this kind, it’s not only your right to be heard. It’s your obligation.

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