One of the worst feelings is walking away from something and realizing that you should have said something or spoken up in some way. I’ve been on the receiving end of it many times too where I’ve been relieved to have someone speak up on my behalf… and also where I’ve been in a room full of people and no one said anything (until after in a private moment). I think we all can do better to be proactive about speaking up when it’s the right thing to do!
How to Speak Up (Even When It’s Scary)
Guest post by Maxie McCoy
Speaking up is no easy task. It can be really hard to use your voice especially in certain situations where you’re nervous about the outcome, or nervous about what it is is that you need to say.
There are so many reasons that we don’t. We’ve been told to be quiet. We’ve been told to be nice. We’ve been told not to rock the boat. We’ve been told to be amenable. We’ve been told to be grateful for whatever it is that we do have.
And because speaking up can often mean that by honoring our own beliefs and needs, there might be a sacrifice. We might have to lose someone or something. Or we might find ourselves in a tough, or emotional, or uncomfortable situation. It’s not easy. But it’s totally required in order to own our power and place in this world.
As much as I’m used to sharing my voice both in front of big rooms and on the internet, I recently found myself totally hesitant to speak up about something that I knew was right but was unsure how it would be perceived. I didn’t know who I’d piss off or how it would play out. And I thought was right about what I believed I needed to speak up about, but I figured there might be a whole lot of pushback and that they might paint me as someone who was being overly dramatic or needlessly concerned. I had to learn my own lesson in how hard it can be to speak up, and yet how wildly necessary it is. Whether it’s in the classroom, at the office, to the world, or in our relationships, we cannot mute ourselves to keep everyone comfortable. Because everyone will be comfortable but us. Using our voice is key to being our truest and most expressed selves. It leads to more connected relationships and a more connected world.
So if you’re scared about what might be a tough conversation or a hard thing to say, consider these:
Integrate using your voice in small moments
Speaking up in the scary moments is easier if you’ve practiced it in the everyday ones. So, try doing that, every day. If you have an opinion but are worried about sharing, try it. If a friend asks how you are and you’re not great, try sharing instead of pretending you’re fine. You’ll be amazed at how using your voice in these simple moments actually has a major impact on how you feel.
Write yourself notes
Not everyone gets it right all of the time. We all need a little bit of help to communicate what it is that we’re trying to say. And that’s OK. Writing notes, or an email, or talking points, before you get into any important conversation is totally acceptable. Often times it helps your process your own thinking.
Role play the convo with a friend
Sometimes, being able to practice what you want to say out loud is half the battle. Getting comfortable with your own voice and opinions and ways of saying things is key. Ask a friend to go through the conversation with you, that way you can anticipate what someone else might say and you get practice owning your voice.
Your voice is one of the most powerful tools in owning your own power and expression. Don’t mute it. Try your best to begin practice speaking up. Honest conversations, while uncomfortable, deepen our connection with each other and the world around us.