Sometimes, it may feel as if the world is trying to stifle your voice. Sometimes, you have to fight in order to make your voice heard. And sometimes, it feels easier to stay silent.
When clients come to me with questions about how to develop and project their voices, I like to direct them to this quote from Seth Godin:
“You have the right to remain silent. But I hope you won’t. The world conspires to hold us back, but it can’t do that without our permission.”
Sometimes, you have to stay silent, whether it be for your mental or physical health, your overall well-being, or for circumstances beyond your control. There are also times when you may have the option to speak up.
It’s those moments where I hope you will say something.
That’s what we’ll be talking about today. Making your voice heard can be uncomfortable at times, but still necessary. I’ll give you a few ideas of how you can overcome this discomfort and start speaking your mind.
Why Don’t We Make Our Voices Heard?
At some point in our lives, many of us have had to go through the discomfort and disappointment of rejection. This could be in a social situation, or even in a professional, business setting. When we are rejected, it could bring up feelings of low self esteem or even failure. These negative feelings can make it so that we try to avoid rejection whenever possible.
Our fear of being rejected may actually stem from the days in which humans more frequently lived in tribes. If you behaved in a way that didn’t align with the rest of the tribe members, you could risk banishment. Without a group of people surrounding you, your chances of survival were slim to none (Judith Glaser speaks more about this in her Psychology Today article).
Our need to be accepted by others (and society at large) is tied very closely to our desire to live happy and healthy lives. This is what makes it so difficult to speak our minds when the time comes. What if we make our voice heard, and it’s unpopular, and then we face rejection? Those are the types of feelings you have to reckon with in order to overcome the discomfort.
Learning to Speak Out
There’s definitely a time and place for silence, but there are also times and places for making your voice heard. Only you can make the choice to show up and speak out, but here are a few ways that you can go about overcoming your reservations:
Speak Truthfully and Authentically
When you do make your voice heard, you should always try to stay true to yourself and your message. Nobody can expect anything more of you than being who you are, so this is often the best place to start.
Have confidence in the words you’re saying. You’re in that professional meeting, that serious conversation, that relationship, for a reason. You are valued, and people want to hear what you’re thinking. Despite what you may be thinking, your thoughts and opinions are of great value to the ones around you.
The world needs to hear what you have to say!
Use Your Voice To Help Others
Some people may not necessarily feel comfortable talking about their own thoughts and emotions, but have no problem standing up for others. If you relate to this feeling, take some time to get to know why. Ponder your values and think about why showing up for others matters to you more than showing up for yourself.
Then, actively think about what you’re doing when you speak up on behalf of someone else. What type of language do you use? How does it make you feel? How do you think it makes the other person feel?
Take some time to recognize that, as you speak up, you’re showing up for another person. You have the power to show up in the same way for yourself. From there, you can seek out opportunities to speak your own truth, alongside continuing to be there for others.
Know How To Use Skills You Already Have
If you’re naturally a quiet or introverted person, you may already have some important abilities that those who speak more freely don’t.
For instance, you may be a much better listener than those around you and take the time to fully comprehend the message before you respond. This will make your comments incredibly insightful and valuable.
Or, you might be incredibly focused on a particular topic or area that others have missed. In this case, the insights you provide would be very useful, no matter the situation you find yourself in.
This is not to say that those who don’t have any problems speaking up for themselves aren’t good listeners or aren’t incredibly focused. Rather, take some time to fully understand what unique skills you possess, and then use those to help give you confidence as you prepare to speak your mind more freely.
Think About How You Will Speak
Oftentimes, people worry about speaking because they’re scared people will react negatively to what they say. While you can’t control what other people do or think, you can take the time to think about how to craft your message in a way that’s more effective. How you say something can change the outcome of how someone reacts, sometimes more than the actual message.
When you do speak, be sure to make eye contact with the other person (if there are multiple people, try to make eye contact with each of them, if you can). Speak slowly, clearly, and with an inflection in your voice. You should also try to sit or stand up straight and face the other person (or audience of people), all as you’re able to do so.
Even if you don’t feel confident, giving off body language that suggests honesty and confidence can make people more willing to listen to what you have to say. Practice with a trusted friend, family member, or colleague to get into the habit.
And think about what you might use as a power pose!
Making your voice heard puts you in an incredibly vulnerable position, but only you can decide how long you want to stay silent. You’re capable of having a strong voice, one that moves mountains. All you have to do is put your mind to it.
If you’re unsure of how to start this journey toward making your voice heard, I’d love the opportunity to help you. Get in touch with me to schedule a meeting.