Are there times in a group or with a partner/friend, you want to say something but don’t? What guides your decision to stay quiet or speak up? We are living in times when a lot of people feel strongly about issues but may keep their thoughts or opinions to themselves. But then there are others who declare what is on their minds without regard to other people’s reactions as well.

Accepting that one was wrong seems to be difficult for many people. Why is that? We all know that no individual can be right all the time. The cultural messages about making a mistake clearly override any rational belief on this. Add to that the role of the ego, that if I admit to my error, I may be seen as less than perfect, and such behavior gets clouded. In fact, saying I was wrong strengthens relationships and opens channels of communication. Who wants to be around someone who is 100% correct 100% of the time? (Not me!)

Then there is the “I don’t know” avoiders. Again, no one knows every answer to every question. I find this especially true for a number of people who are “experts” and seem averse to admitting they may know a lot but not everything.

What about when you disagree with what is being presented? Are you comfortable with expressing that or keep it to yourself? If you do the latter, and later find out indeed you should’ve spoken up, how do you feel? Healthy discussions promote creativity and better solutions whether in a group or in a twosome.

All of these situations reflect whether one feels psychologically safe in expressing themselves. How do we achieve that sense of safety? We provide it for ourselves when we feel we have an inner core that can withstand any darts that can be thrown at us. Similar to feeling confident we can ride a bike because we have a good sense of balance, it is having the faith in ourselves that we can withstand life. However, there are environments where that feeling would be challenged, where a hostile person or group can be too critical or assaultive. Then it is healthy to consider just how much of its exposure you want to give yourself if you can have that option.

“Words are all we have.” ~~ Samuel Beckett, Irish novelist, playwright, and poet 

Author Profile

Janan Broadbent, PhD
Janan Broadbent, PhD
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.

Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577