“I’ve become afraid to speak up when I should,” she confessed to me. She’s not alone – I hear this theme often. Just like any fear, the more we avoid it, the larger it looms. That’s why I’m offering these seven strategies to help you speak up and speak your truth the next time you feel that your voice needs to be heard:
1. Clarity is key. Ask yourself, what do I really want? For example, are you speaking up to correct a misunderstanding that could lead to litigation or to heal a relationship rift? Once you have clarity about what you want in this circumstance, your focus and follow-through will be stronger.
2. Tally the cost. Need motivation? Consider the price you’re paying for not speaking up. What are you missing out on doing, experiencing or having as a result of staying silent? Is the price you’re paying worth it?
3. Get a grip. Could you handle it if the conversation didn’t go your way? What do you actually believe will happen as a result? In reality, you’ve handled everything that has ever happened to you to date, so count on being able to handle this too!
4. Script it. Write what you want to say and practice, practice, practice. This will help you NOT choke in the moment.
5. Start small. Begin by speaking up in small steps, perhaps to your dry cleaner who overcharges and didn’t remove the stain or saying no to a demanding friend. Practice saying what you mean and meaning what you say, without being mean.
6. Envision a win. In your mind’s eye, visualize a successful outcome to the situation.
7. Ready, set, go! Confidence only comes from taking action. No shortcuts.
Only when we get comfortable being uncomfortable will we speak our truth, get heard and get ahead.