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Start Speaking Up!

These 9 tips and 3 action steps help a lot!

If you’re tired of feeling the way that someone else makes you feel, it’s not necessarily time to get-over-it and feel-differently; nor is it always about forgiving and forgetting. While those are sometimes great ways to deal with some situations, it’s not always the appropriate response. Because sometimes, it’s time to take back control and help that someone stop making you feel that way!

I recently found myself dejected and a little hurt by what someone close to me did to me. I wasn’t even something big. Nevertheless, I played the scene out in my mind’s eye over and over and I had a 100 come-backs that played out differently in my head every time. But instead of helping me work through the hurt, frustration, anger and pain, this process ended up making me feel worse. Not only did I feel worse about this evil thing that happened to me, but also, I made it worse for myself in terms of how I felt and what I thought about that person. And ultimately, I eventually realized, it affected what I felt and thought about myself.

What happened to me in this process, was that my introspection (which is a great strength) generated negative self-talk (which can be dangerous if left unchecked) spiraled out of control - as negative self-talk almost always do. My introspection led to self-talk which led to more introspection and self-talk that became a negative feedback loop. It was like I brought a mic too close to a speaker. My heart and soul started to scream out loud for something to stop – but I didn’t know what had to stop.

This went on until I realized I had to find a better grip on the situation. Getting a better grip on the situation, meant I had to deal with two issues and doing this quickly.

First, I had to reduce the noise in this negative feedback loop, by interjecting positive thoughts in a very deliberate way. But “positive self-talk” can only get you that far. I also had to talk to someone and for this I turned to my closest confidant to deal with my self-doubts. I did this without mentioning where this all started for me because what happened before and what caused the spiral in the first place, i.e. what this other person did or said, had absolutely nothing to do with my confidant – my confidant didn’t have to know about this other person. Instead, what I wanted to talk about with my confidant, was what I thought and felt about myself. Because I knew I desperately had to gain a different perspective on what I saw and felt when I looked at myself.

The conversations I had with my confidant relit the spark in my heart and mind. Which gave me nuggets of gold, for positive self-talk ideas that I could further bring into this internal dialogue that I had with myself – and that is how I boosted my ability to deliberately inject positivity into my introspection process to reduce the noise caused by any self-doubt.

This helped me break the introspection-negative-self-talk cycle.

Once I had a better grip on myself, I had to get to stage two: Getting a better grip on the situation with that other person.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you are desperate to jump in and say your piece, but instead, you stew in silence? If you can relate to this, you might have trouble speaking up. This can become a serious issue. If you aren't willing or able to speak up for yourself, rest assured that no one else will either. No concerns, issues, questions, or solutions you might have in your head will ever materialize if you can't speak up at the right time.

If you'd like to be the type of person who speaks up when their best interests are at stake, then consider these nine tips and three action steps:


1. Know What You Stand For

When you take the time to figure out what matters to you, you will be more likely to speak up on those interests. Knowing what's important is a good way to figure out when you should speak up versus when to stay quiet. Also, knowing what matters to you helps you articulate what you mean when you do speak up. Because you will speak up about something very specific and there won’t be any confusion or ambiguity there. That is how you enable yourself to stand up for yourself to have a dialogue about important things in your life.

This is not about preparing to being right, though. It’s about preparing to have meaningful, constructive, dialogue where you can safely exchange ideas, defending your position, and allowing others to contribute equally constructively.

2. Be Ready

If you struggle speaking up, trying to wing it at the moment is going to be intimidating. Make sure you plan and prepare yourself in advance whenever possible. If you have a meeting you know you want to bring something up, then have all your talking points ready.

It’s not about ambushing the others in the conversation. It’s about being ready with the sequence of the talking points that will help you get your points across in way that your dialogue flows logically from start to finish.

3. Start Small

One of the only ways to get over an inability to speak up, especially in a group discussion, is to just start doing it. It might be too intimidating to start on a grand scale, so try and start small. An example of starting small would be speaking up in a one-on-one situation.

4. Write Down What You Want to Say

Some people are much better at writing their thoughts out than verbally expressing them. While you can't hand in a paper during a big work meeting, having your thoughts written down already will give you time to practice your delivery. If you are preparing to have a conversation with the person one-on-one in a setting where you cannot have your notes with you, reduce your talking points to a bullet list of maybe 5 or so logical points and commit those to memory. Practice delivering the points, whether verbally or just imaginary.

5. Find An Early Opening

The longer you sit in silence, the harder it will be for you to speak up. You will give your mind too much time to create a bunch of excuses why you shouldn't. Also, finding an early opening ensures you have the time to get your point across.

Again, this is not about ambushing anyone. It’s about finding the entry point for your speaking bit. And if you find that you missed the opportunity, don’t be afraid to say something like, “I just want to return to …” followed by “why”, and keep it short. Then take it from there.

6. Recognize It's Hard but Worthwhile

It doesn't help for you to pretend speaking up is easy. Acknowledge that it will be a challenge, but at the same time, realize it will all be worth it. Research into "Realistic Optimism" has shown that people are more likely to follow through if they expect a task to be challenging.

Don’t take my word for it, check this out:

Heidi Grant, social psychologist, said, “… to be successful, you need to understand the vital difference between believing you will succeed, and believing you will succeed easily.”

7. Your Voice Deserves to Be Heard

You have a unique voice, outlook and understanding of things. Your thoughts and opinions are important and valuable. If you can't accept and believe this, you will never be able to speak up for yourself. But here’s the thing: You already know this to be true. It is why it is so hurtful when you don’t speak up for yourself. So stop the self-doubt, and trust that you … (now read this paragraph again).

Rinse and repeat: “I have a unique voice, outlook and understanding of things. My thoughts and opinions are important and valuable. If I can't accept and believe this, I will never be able to speak up for myself. But here’s the thing: I already know this to be true. It is why it is so hurtful when I don’t speak up for myself. So stop the self-doubt, and trust that …”

8. Stop Worrying About Others' Thoughts

It's perfectly fine to consider other people's feelings and opinions before you speak. However, it's important not to go overboard. Don't worry about everyone else agreeing with you or looking stupid. If you have something important to say, then say it.

Again, it’s not about being right; it’s about getting your thoughts about what is of value to you, across.

9. Learn the Art of Diplomacy

Sometimes it's best to be as direct and blunt as possible. Other times, it can help you to be a bit more diplomatic. The less aggressive you sound, the easier you will find it to speak up for yourself.


Here's 3 action steps that you can take. See how you can expand it on your own:


These are small action steps that you can start in your life today. I am very passionate about our innate ability to change in small ways. We hate change, but we all want transformation. Check out my e-Book, Transformation, that you can buy here.

Also check out the MicroHabits book, but start here for a quick introduction: 15 Uncommon MicroHabits. Welcome to the MicroHabits Club!


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