I was in an Uber recently and the driver was on the phone with his schoolteacher daughter. He was advising her to stand up for herself in a work situation. The call ended with an understanding that he would meet her later that evening at the Olive Garden.

When he hung up, I asked him about the conversation. He said it was his middle daughter – who is joyfully pregnant with his first grandchild. Apparently, he had planned to make dinner, but she had a craving and he quickly agreed that a trip to Olive Garden was the order of the day. Smart future Grandpa.

I asked about the work situation, and he told me that he has taught all three of his daughters that “closed mouths don’t get fed.”

“I am sorry – what?” I said.

He repeated “closed mouths don’t get fed” and went on to explain that all of us need to speak up when we believe we are being treated poorly and or being taken advantage of by others. Particularly those we perceive have power over us.

I mentioned that we teach the idea that “we treat people how to treat us.” In any dysfunctional relationship, rather than wish the other person will change, it is wise reflect on your behavior first. To mix the stories – if you have party A and party B – and party A does not speak up against something that they feel isn’t right, party B’s experience won’t be that their counterpart didn’t speak up. Their experience will be that they, Party B, got what they wanted without much issue! They will continue to ask – often increasing in their demands and expectations. Party A, the person being taken advantage of, may complain to others while fielding these increasing demands, but if they fail to speak up to Party B, the cycle will continue.

Speaking up has become wildly simple in the digital age: thanks to the anonymity offered by screens, people get hulk-sized confidence when adding comments to an article or on social media. For many, it is an overcompensation for their real world inability to stand up.

Aristotle wrote “ANYBODY can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody’s power, that is not easy.”

To paraphrase “anybody can speak up on social media. But to speak up in the real world, to the right person, to the right degree and the right time, is not easy.”

But if we do speak up, despite its challenges – it is worth it. Whether we get everything we want or not, at least we’ve opened our mouths… because as our schoolteacher knows – open mouths do get fed.