Do you hold yourself back and regret not having spoken up?
Are you aware of the things you are tolerating?
Have you been told you need to stand up for yourself more often?
Perhaps you don’t want to hurt someone, Maybe it’s the fear of being judged, Or it might be that you don’t want more drama or conflict.
Keeping quiet may feel like the safest thing to do; however, reflect on the opportunities you are probably missing out on by not speaking up. Think of what you may have lost by not sharing those exciting ideas, not holding your ground, and avoiding asking for what you deserved.
Also, acknowledge the stress and worries you invite by not voicing your disapproval or tolerating someone’s poor behaviour. It does not have to be this way; speaking up is easy, normal and good for your well-being.
Every day in your interactions, you teach others how to treat you; speaking up lets them know that you matter and are confident enough to express your thoughts, feelings and ideas. You also indicate boundaries that need to be honoured and leave no room for assumptions and misunderstandings.
Here are ten ways you can get better at speaking up for yourself
1. Get clear on what’s important to you
Begin by identifying your values, principles and preferences; understand what brings you joy and makes you feel alive. Notice things, activities and people that seem to bring out the best in you.
2. List down the benefits of speaking up
You are probably aware of why you hold back or avoid speaking up
Now it’s time to identify how you will benefit when you speak up, hold your ground, and express your thoughts and feelings.
Awareness of the benefits channels your energy and motivation from within and acts like a catalyst in shifting you from mere thinking and feeling to taking action.
3. Practice moving from a state of fear to one of calm
When you are in a state of fear, anxiety or worry, your cognitive facilities are sub-optimal; you suppress your creative forces and are unlikely to
make any breakthroughs.
Learn to stay calm, to feel grounded and in control. Resting, deep breathing, sipping a glass of water, stretching, capturing your thoughts in a journal, and confiding in a friend, coach or counsellor are a few practices that can help move you from a state of fear to one of calm.
4. Choose the right intent, and be objective.
Aligning your energy and actions to a powerful intent can do wonders to your ability to focus. Conversely, based on your feelings, your emotions can easily hijack your thinking.
Aim to be objective, focus on the key points, and avoid making it personal for yourself or others. Show up as a professional, a mature, collected individual who is objective, clear and confident.
5. Avoid judgements, blame and accusations.
Judging, blaming, or accusing someone may seem like a natural thing to do at the moment; however, each time you indulge in such behaviours, you are neglecting responsibility for your growth and success.
You are also missing out on the learnings and opportunities that may be presented to you. Such toxic behaviours will also leave you bitter, annoyed, irritable, and, most importantly, with no solution on hand.
6. Gather your thoughts, write down what you wish to share
Writing can bring clarity to your ideas, allow you to filter through everything that may be running through your mind, and focus on what you wish to say or express. Making this a regular habit will ensure you are clear in your communication, to the point and thereby impactful.
7. Rehearse to reduce internal resistance
Even the most accomplished performers take time to rehearse and practice before their big day. When you rehearse, you are allowing the nervousness and discomfort to flow out; you also become aware of what you need to focus on and how you need to articulate to make an impact.
Going through the points a few times brings familiarity to the topic along with new perspectives and helps you think through likely objections. All of this will make your pitch more convincing and impactful.
8. Bounce your opinions off a trusted source
None of us is as smart as all of us; seeking the counsel of another can help you identify flaws in your line of thought and pitch. Sometimes sharing can help you get more clarity and much-needed courage.
9. Ask for support from a colleague or your manager.
If you feel speaking up all by yourself seems daunting, or if you struggle to say the first few words and are comfortable when the conversation is flowing, then ask a colleague or manager to support you.
You can request them to include you or ask for your opinion, thereby passing the baton to you. You will be surprised by how willing people are when asked to help.
10. Practice and build the speaking-up muscle.
Wishing and hoping will not get you far; this is your plan, your responsibility; the sooner you acknowledge that and get started, the faster you will progress.
Start by attempting to express your thoughts and ideas with the group you feel safest, then gradually move to newer groups and people in higher positions of power. Each time you speak up, you are making it easier for the next time. Imagine what you could achieve if you were to set a goal of speaking up at least once every day!
You are unlikely to master the skill of speaking up overnight. However, with sufficient time and practice, you will get better at it. Also, moving from habitual to mindful behaviours can sometimes be frustrating; it’s essential that you learn to be patient, kind and compassionate with yourself;
Remember, every journey begins with a single step, and this journey is worth it because your voice and what you have to say matter.
May your heart be filled with courage, clarity and compassion.