I see it all the time in my clients… their brilliance, their creativity, their intuition; their amazing ability to communicate and express their view of the world in a way that only they can. I so look forward to the fascinating conversations that I hold with each one of them, where they share their dreams, their fears, their past failures… it is all a part of a puzzle that makes them who they are, imperfectly beautiful. When they are able to open up and be vulnerable in front of another person… that’s when the real magic happens. When they let go of any inhibitions and just allow themselves to speak their truth… that’s when the transformation takes place.
And yet, whenever we start discussing about going out into the world showing who they really are, express their views, ideas, and their truth, I can sense their fear creeping in, causing them to disconnect from that inner source that allows them to express themselves authentically and genuinely.
“I never speak to anybody else the way that I do with you. Even to my own family and partner”. They tell me. “Why do you think that is?” I ask them. They all have a big list of reasons: “Well, I am afraid that if I do, they won’t agree with me, or they will think I am crazy, they will reject my ideas; they won’t support me, or worse, they’ll judge me, and finally see that there is something wrong with me, that I am not as good / clever / interesting as they think I am.”
This overwhelming list of arguments provides them with the back up they need to continue to hide their true self, even though, in the back of their minds, they seem to be aware that this is holding them back from fully expressing their potential and manifesting all that they seek in business and in life.
We have convinced ourselves that the pretend version that we got so good at presenting to the world, is somehow a better version of us. Now, go back and read that statement again. Does it really make sense to you? When did we decide to stop being who we were born to be, and become the impostor running our lives? And more importantly, how does it make you feel when you are having to show up in your life as a whole different person? Do you catch yourself being conflicted with how you act and how you’d really like to show up – if only you had the confidence to do it!
But why aren’t we speaking up? Simply put, we are afraid. Our fears are born of our perception of reality. Whether these fears are based in reality or not is irrelevant, because they are real to us. We all come across situations where we feel that we are being treated unfairly, or believe we have a better idea but are afraid or too shy to speak up, or we simply don’t believe that our ideas and views are good enough. Many of us adults find it very difficult to speak up and confront others about a difficult subject, especially if we believe that the other person may react negatively.
The reality for most of us is the fact that we are so used to speak just to please others, or to be accepted, or sit by the sidelines and let others do the talking, that we have lost our ability to understand the real value that we can bring into the world by just allowing ourselves to show up in our own true light. We hide behind a mask that we have created to justify to the world our very existence, our value, and our worth.
Let me ask you a question: if you could speak up to anyone about anything, with complete confidence, without the fear of being rejected, or judged, just feeling good about showing up in your own capacity, would you want to do it? Or, would you continue to hide behind the mask? Who’s to say that the real you isn’t in fact more beautiful than the mask that you carry around?
“Every word has consequences. Every silence, too.” Jean – Paul Sartre
If you wish you could speak up confidently, then I have you covered. Keep reading on to find out 7 simple ways to help you speak your mind with confidence, without fearing rejection:
1. Get to know the real you. People won’t know who you really are or what’s important to you if you don’t clearly communicate it to them. We are constantly making assumptions of how the world see us, what they think of us, and what we need and want. I can tell you, that we do not have the ability to read your mind. Additionally, not everyone is going to like or agree with you, no matter who you are or what you do. That’s just a fact of life. We are all different. There is however tremendous strength and power in speaking your truth, and expressing it to the world your way. Confident people know themselves and know what is important to them, and work on finding ways to show up in a way that’s true to them. They are not as concerned about others, but their own needs, without stepping into someone’s shoes. Confident people are not only good at getting what they want, they are also good at knowing what they truly want. If you do the work to get to know yourself, the real you, who you are and what you stand for, what’s important to you, what makes you happy, what gives you a sense of purpose and your needs and desires, the better you’ll be able to communicate it to others. Very often we simply don’t feel like we know what to say or how to say it because we are lacking clarity.
2. Become aware of your fears. If you want to move past the initial feeling that stops you from speaking up, you are going to have to do some digging and understand the kind of thoughts and arguments that contribute to these feelings. You can easily become aware of your fears by saying to yourself: “I am afraid of speaking up because……..”, then completing the sentence. Keep doing it until you feel that you have covered all of the possible fears and arguments that are stopping you. The more responses you come up with, the greater the opportunity to expose the source of your fear. Look for the logic in your arguments. The brain loves evidence and real data. Very often we make assumptions and consider them as facts; but if there are no supporting facts, then you know that you are really just making it up. Challenge your fears by asking yourself the following: “Is the way I see this fear the absolute truth?” and “What facts or evidence do I have to back it up?”
3. Appreciate differences of opinion. Just because another person holds a very different view of the world, or believe in completely opposite ideas to yours, it does not mean conflict will arise. And even when real conflict arises, we tend to assume that a difference of opinion will lead to a negative outcome, which isn’t necessarily the case, if you know how to navigate through such conversations. The fact is that each one of us view the world differently. We all make judgements, decisions and hold beliefs relating to our reality of the world. Just because someone else may hold a very different view of the world, it doesn’t mean that they are right and you are wrong, or vice versa. Consider this, if you view differences of opinion from a place of curiosity, from wanting to know the other person’s view of the world, then agreeing to disagree doesn’t seem like such a scary topic. When you are curious to learn about the other person, without the expectation of having to conclude in agreement, then fear turns into possibility. So next time you are faced with having to speak up, allow yourself to speak your truth, and engage with the other person with the purpose to listen and understand their view of the world. Even on the small chance that things may get heated, I can almost guarantee that you will survive to tell the tale. Stop thinking that people will react negatively to you. I found that most of the time, people respond really well to the truth, if it really is your truth, and you are communicating in a respectful way.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw
4. Face your fears – In most cases, putting yourself “out there” and being met with an angry, mocking or dismissive response from another adult doesn’t actually kill you or significantly damage your life. In actual fact, if you continue to speak up, you may be surprised at your resilience in response to any and all possible reactions. We avoid confrontations because we’re irrationally afraid of what will happen, and in most cases we think that we can’t handle it. The best way to let go of this fear is to do precisely what you’re afraid of, or as I like to put it: “Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway”. This action allows us to discover that we can actually handle the consequences, that our world doesn’t fall apart, and in most cases our relationships actually benefit from our honesty and transparency. This is assuming, of course, that we’ve done our best to communicate our truth in a straightforward, non-abusive and respectful way.
5. Practise makes perfect. If you really want to speak up with confidence, you are going to have to “jump off the cliff”, so to speak, and get good at practising the art of speaking up. The best way to start rehearsing is by choosing an easier topic, a smaller one, and rehearsing ways in which to speak up about it. Practise at home, with a friend, sign up for a public speaking course, online or locally. You won’t just learn how to speak clearly, you will also learn to speak better in general. The best way to get good at speaking up with confidence, is to do it as often as you can. Nobody is great at anything in the beginning, so try not to compare yourself to anyone. Start where you are at, and just keep working on your own practise. Be consistent in your practise and, in no time, you will reap incredible benefits.
6. Take responsibility of your own life and actions. People who aren’t confident blame others, when they could instead be taking responsibility for at least some of the issue. They feel overwhelmed by a world that won’t stop, and find it paralysing to step in and take action, so they sit in the sidelines instead. But the reality of it is that nobody will come to your rescue. Everyone else is too busy with their own lives to think about your own needs and wants, so you are going to have to take the initiative to help yourself, and give yourself permission to show up and speak up. Even confident people feel afraid at times, they just lean into the fear and do it anyway, because they know that the benefits of facing your fears greatly outweigh the pain. So, instead of waiting for someone to come to your rescue, or blaming someone else, ask yourself instead: “what can I do to change this?”. Then, focus on taking responsibility for your own actions and show up for yourself. The more you do it, the bigger and better your voice will be, and the easier it will become to speak up.
7. Speak to a professional. If the subject of speaking up still has you paralysed, not to worry, help is at hand. There are a great number of people across many disciplines to help you combat your fears, get to know yourself authentically, and create a life and business you love. Coaching is the perfect answer to those who need some assistance and support in helping them get clear about who they are, what they really want, and how to get there. Feel free to contact me for a no-obligation, 30 minutes consultation to discuss your own individual needs.
Over to you now. What is it that you are scared to say? Who do you need to stand up to? Who do you need to tell how you really feel? If you had to tell the world about who you are and what you stand for, what would say and why? Write down 3 answers and plan how to put them out into the world. Speak up, and watch your world brighten up. Let go of your pretend mask, and enjoy the FREEDOM TO BE YOU!
Here’s to your success!
Isabel Valle is an accredited ICF PCC Coach, Leadership Mentor and Facilitator currently based in Bangkok. Isabel has held senior positions within the hospitality industry in countries around the world, and facilitates a holistic approach to leadership, growth and success. She specialises in virtual coaching and online mentoring that inspires action and helps leaders from all walks of life around the globe bring their gifts to life to help them create professional excellence and personal fulfilment. You can contact Isabel on email@example.com.
More information available on www.isabelvalle.com.