Imagine you’re with people you know and someone broaches a topic – a topic you know very little about if anything at all. As everyone else is offering their opinions and suggestions, you remain silent. Recall a moment when, you were scheduled to give a presentation at school or work, and immediately, you were overcome with anxiety.
There have been times when some of us, including myself, have not had the strength to speak up, speak out and be loud. Be it during public discourse, at work, or elsewhere, it has been difficult to say what’s on your mind, and, to speak your words with confidence.
In relations to speaking out, some people have never seen themselves as a leader or alpha. Truthfully, you need not be the boss to speak your mind. This being the case, if you have been classified as one who isn’t a leader, sidestep the results of the Meyers-Briggs test.
If your color is blue and you want to be red, you can make the switch. To change colors, I suggest adherence to the following three principles:
Before moving onward, I’d like you to think of a time when you were afraid to speak out. What thing(s) held you back from speaking your mind? For the remainder of this post, I will explain the above said threefold formula for verbal confidence and how these advisory points can help you find your bravado when needed.
A CHANGE OF COLOR
Adaptability is a powerful talent. To survive or better yet thrive, you must be able to adapt to any environment or set of circumstances. Don’t get me wrong – it’s always best to be real and true to who you are.
However, occasionally we all must acclimate to the given climate and conditions of where we are, or with whom we are around. And sometimes the whom plays a more critical role than the where as a deciding factor on how well, if at all, you can acclimatize. On any given day, your spirits could be as high as a falcon until you find yourself in the company of a particular person or people.
For instance, there have been many occasions when women have struggled as a minority group among the dominant status quo known as Men. Yes, it is true that the landscape has changed as more women are earning higher grade professional jobs and the sisterhood has gained momentum and a voice. However, the legacies of the past are still ever present.
Psychologist and counselor, Kim Gaines Eckert, is familiar with the waning of the female spirit in a male-dominated setting. In her book, Stronger than you think, Dr. Eckert wrote, “reflect for a moment on the last group discussion you participated in with both men and women. How did the women speak in comparison to the men? Were the women likely to make disclaimers before they spoke, such as, “I could be wrong, but…” or” This is my only opinion, but…”
One could infer that inferiority isn’t always innate, but rather bred. Father’s tell their sons to watch their little sisters. Boys have longer curfew times than girls. In some countries, men can drive and women cannot. These are the kinds of injustices that inadvertently tell women: you’re not good enough, strong enough or tough enough.
Dr. Eckert remarks on the disparaging practices that have demoralized the inner self of the female. According to Dr. Eckert, “If you notice a difference in how men and women speak in groups, it is not because we have different “communication genes.” Rather, we grow up in a particular culture in which different kinds of behaviors are valued and reinforced more for males than for females.” If you have been a victim of such cultural conditioning, you’re not doomed to eternal docility.
How often have you or another lady you know bowed out in the majority presence of men? If this is you, then you must put on the cape and assume a stronger identity. Switch your color to red and speak boldly.
On the surface, this is switching from mild-mannered to ferocious to adapt within an environment – especially one that is domineering. Beneath the surface is a trait that empowers people, extroverts and introverts, to speak out. This trait is one of the vehicles of the fleet of awesomeness – it’s called courage.
Before I grew the stones to speak in public, I had no voice. No style. Zero personality.
I was nothing but a talking-walking bundle of nerves. The bigger the stage, the more afraid I was. The bigger the moment, the more likely my biological detonator would trigger an implosion.
Initially, as most public speakers who are scared as shit, I spoke in one tone: low. With training from a great Speech Communications professor, and a lot of hard to improve, I began to believe in myself. My self-belief in myslef as an orator enabled me to circumvent my fear of the big stage. I began to speak more and more, but with a different diction. My tone of voice became louder, and, with each word delivered, I grew more confident.
Yes, I was courageous in other aspects of life, but suffered when speaking before other people. First, I had to develop the courage to get on the stage with confidence. And with courage, I found my strength, while burning the muzzle that subdued my voice.
As with outspoken people, or those who can and will speak when necessary, they have no problem speaking out. Brave people will express themselves, even if they’re the only minority among a majority that doesn’t favor them. Their bravery enables them not to give a damn what anyone thinks.
Nonetheless, if you wish to escape docility, and speak up when necessary, you must have courage. I’ve witnessed many interviews with people who found their courage through martial arts. Let’s face it, one of the reasons people fail to speak out is for fear of getting their ass whooped. That said, this makes perfect sense, as learning self-defense techniques are empowering.
Though rest assured, there are other ways to find courage. As for me, I gained the confidence to speak in public and speak my mind through believing in myself. This belief that was predicated on having sufficient knowledge of my presentation or a topic of discussion, thereby feeling confident in what I had to say.
THE POWER AND SPLENDOR OF KNOWLEDGE
Going back to the very first scenario, revisit a time when you were with people you know, and someone broaches an issue in which you have insufficient knowledge. As everyone is offering their opinions and suggestions, you remain silent because you’re afraid to voice your thoughts. To intensify this scenario, those people, or some of them, are people who have embarrassed you once or twice for being wrong.
Following such an embarrassing moment, the gait of your step becomes deflated, as does your confidence. You lose your ferocity and your courage. You begin to second-guess yourself – so severely that you choose not to speak and argue your opinion. Generally speaking, some people have an undeniable crippling effect on others.
While there is no one, and I mean no one who knows everything, I can find comfort in this truth, mainly if engaged in an opinion based conversation. Though it is still tough for some people to adopt this mindset as a way to overcome the fear of looking bad for saying the wrong thing. No one likes to look dumb. Indeed, no one wants to look stupid and be made fun of for disclosure of inaccuracies.
However, having sufficient knowledge empowers you to speak, and, also helps to eliminate stage fright. You see, when you know honestly know what you’re talking about – so much that you can stand behind your words without second-guessing yourself – you eradicate fear.
By the way, if someone wants to be an ass and challenge you, it’s easy to take them on, word for word, and defend your statements, all because you know your shit. When you’ve got a firm grip on your subject matter, you believe in your thoughts and words; you can speak out with ease and confidence.
FIND YOUR VOICE
In their book, Own the Room, authors Amy Jen Su & Muriel Maignan Wilkins define Signature Voice as a hybrid of “voice for self” & “voice for others” – the former implies the ability to demonstrate one’s value and distinctiveness. The latter is the ability to connect and align with stakeholders. Your signature voice will help you communicate your ideas and thoughts with flair and style, thus cranking up your sound up a few notches to speak openly and louder than everyone else.
Before closing, I’d like you to recall the time or times in which you failed to speak out. Also, think back on the reason(s) that muffled your voice. With what you now know about 1) Acclimatization 2) Courage and 3) Knowledge, consider how you will incorporate these three principles, along with Signature Voice, to speak out as needed.
Most of us believe that we know ourselves very well. We know our strengths and weaknesses. And seemingly so, we know the areas we dominate and control. Lack of judgment and the inability to believe that you can be and do more are detrimental – detrimental as in you or others build categorical boxes for yourself: Athletic types are only athletes – Artsy people are just artists – Intellectuals are dull and bland.
These labels will stick if you allow them. Your “box” will become your eternal home if you fear to venture inward to find and develop your hidden strengths from within. Defy the odds – you need not be the prototypical alpha to be heard, nor voice your opinions when needed. Instead, dig deep and utilize the skills noted in this message. The more you speak up and speak out, your tone of voice, level of confidence and rhetorical effectiveness will improve – trust me.
Get Acclimated. Be Courageous. Gain Knowledge. Be Brave. Speak Out!