Break the silence and speak up at meetings without fear.

-3 tips to boldly speak your mind with less backlash.

Have you ever walked away from a meeting feeling frustrated because you failed to share your ideas? What was it that kept you on mute?

For some, it could be a fear of being judged or the tendency to assume the worst. For others, it’s the desire to offer the best or nothing. Or you could be overwhelmed by a lack of experience asserting your opinion.

Whatever it is for you, know that you’re not alone. So many people deal with or have dealt with similar obstacles. The good news is that it doesn’t matter what your hurdles are in this area.

There are three things you can do to turn the situation around.

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  1. Learn to manage, not avoid fear.
    Fear is part of everyone’s life. It’s built into our nature, so don’t fight it. Become aware of your fear and accept it. First, identify what the fear is; being judged negatively or failing to get others to agree with you or something else.

    Next, change your relationship with fear. Instead of trying to avoid or deny it, work alongside it. I like applying the 50/50 rule. Whenever I feel afraid to say something, I question that fear and speak back to it, saying, “Well, there’s a 50% chance it’ll be well received and 50% chance it won’t.” This questions my mind’s initial assessment that there’s a 100% chance it will be rejected.

    Giving myself this breathing room allows me to sit alongside my fear and say what I need to.

    2. Ask a question.
    Initially, it can be hard to be assertive when you’re not used to doing so. Sometimes, when others aren’t used to having you speak up, they may not always react favorably. Most people don’t welcome change in the patterns of their interpersonal relationships.

    However, you can slowly begin to assert yourself by framing your opinions as a question, making it seem less threatening. Instead of saying, “I think we should cut back 10% on our spending,” you could say, “What if we cut back on our spending 10%?” Do you hear the difference? Does that feel much easier to speak with less risk of seeming arrogant or offending others?

    3. Start small.
    As with most things, it’s best to start small. This makes the change less of a burden. It also makes you more likely to be consistent in your new behaviors. Also, it’s easier for others to accept the “new you” when you offer your new boldness in small doses.

    Resist the temptation to storm into a meeting with daring ideas immediately. If you’ve been on the quiet side until now, it will be hard for others to trust your judgment. Building your trustworthiness is better by gracefully offering less intense opinions one step at a time.

    You will always risk someone disagreeing with you when you speak what’s on your mind. Don’t think that this will ever change. Instead, try working with this discomfort by recognizing that you may cheat others out of reasonable solutions if you keep quiet. Additionally, when you don’t speak up, you deny your value which will always make you feel bad.

    You have a voice. Use it!

    Til next week, 
    Jo-Aynne Von Born

    Work Your Authentic Genius.
    Flourish using your own intelligence!
  1. What stops you from speaking up at meetings or in conversations?
  2. What’s the worst that can happen if you do speak up?
  3. Could you recover or even benefit in some way from that worst-case scenario?

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