Learning to Speak Up

communication speak up May 16, 2022

A saying goes, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." We're going to challenge that today. It would be best to learn how and when to speak up to get your point across effectively. Many people avoid speaking up because they're afraid of sounding confrontational or being wrong. But the truth is, if you want to be heard, you need to find your voice and use it.

Speaking up takes courage.

Speaking up can be one of the most challenging things you can do in your life, and this is because it's different from other forms of communication. Several things make speaking up more daunting than speaking with somebody or addressing a group of people.

  • There's an element of assertiveness when speaking up, which can be a problem for someone with low self-esteem.
  • Speaking up involves advocating or fighting for something for your benefit and that of others.
  • An element of opposition is present when speaking up. You would like to talk because you sense something wrong with what is being presented to you, which may lead to conflict when not handled properly.
  • Speaking up involves courage as you may likely be seen as opposed or treated as someone different or challenging to work with once you present your point of view.
  • Speaking up requires a good knowledge of what you are about to say to back it up with solid proof and not come out as someone who's only ranting.

What makes speaking up difficult?

Seeing the qualities of speaking up, you may refrain from doing it and stay silent. However, speaking up is crucial for making dramatic changes in various situations in life. Without speaking up, other people can easily trample on your rights and do whatever they want. They can see you as someone they can easily take advantage of and make you do their bidding. Speaking is almost akin to facing physical danger, and various reasons make it difficult to do.

  • One may misinterpret your speaking up as overstepping your boundaries, especially when speaking up to someone in a higher position than you, such as talking to your boss or an influential figure in a particular group.
  • Emotions play a significant part in whether we can speak up or not in a particular situation. Fear can overtake you when you think about how people will react once you say your piece. They may retaliate when they don't take your opinion lightly and make you lose your reputation. However, feeling a sense of anger within you may make you more inclined to speak up, especially when nobody else is doing it and your drive to fight for what is correct is strong.
  • If a person's communication skills are not that polished, one may have difficulties speaking up. Our past experiences also play a role in our attitude towards speaking up. For example, receiving negative feedback or getting ridiculed for saying something in the past can cause trauma. Also, growing up in a family where you are not allowed to question the authority of your parents can affect one's ability to speak up.

When to speak up

Speaking up is a daunting task, but it is essential to learn how to do it as it can bring changes to your life and the lives of others. Knowing when to do it is the first thing that one should learn, and certain situations drive the call to do it.

  • If nobody else is speaking up even though something wrong has been mentioned, and you feel that people are upset
  • You notice some agitation from people, and you also feel the same way.
  • No one is bringing it up when a law, rule, or regulation has been violated by what someone said.
  • You have a solid backup in the form of well-researched facts about your counterargument and people who hold the same views as you and have your back.
  • You are better positioned to speak up by having the resources, skills, and knowledge to make your stand and let your voice be heard.
  • You have this gut feeling to speak up, and something is building up in your throat and mind because you know something is off.

Once you see yourself in these situations, it's time to gather some confidence and speak out about what's on your mind. There are ways to deliver your point correctly without looking like you are just making an angry tirade.

  • Get directly to the point. Explain why you are against something without adding too much background info or side details.
  • After delivering your main point, offer a call of action or suggestion. Adding these things to your point provides an alternative solution to something that may be off-putting to others, and you won't come out as somebody who's just ranting.
  • Keep your emotions in check while speaking. While you may feel anger or resentment over what somebody has said, it's crucial not to get too emotional while speaking up. Instead, keep the tone of your voice down and deliver your points calmly and professionally.
  • Always consider the parties involved when speaking up. Keep in your mind why you're speaking up in the first place. For whose concern and benefit are you speaking out? Take this into consideration so you won't get out of focus. As for the opposing party, please do not say anything that may hurt their side and feelings. Even if your words are not what others may want to hear, respect is vital.
  • Arguments can get heated while you speak up, and somebody else may throw an aggressive comment or get offensive toward you. Do not fight back and say that you are only explaining your side. Instead, if things get ugly, escalate them to the proper authorities. Having an appropriate backup plays a part, such as having your boss or a higher-ranking professional on your side.

Let your voice be heard.

There's a good reason why speaking up is not easy to do. You are fighting for something towards a better future that benefits you and others. Once you do it, most people will have their eyes on you. It can be pretty scary, mainly when you are not used to public speaking. However, it's essential to learn this skill to get your opinion across so as not to get drowned by the masses' point of view or somebody who wants to dictate how your life should be. Understandably, many people will prefer to stay silent for fear of being shot down by others and their relationships with people getting strained. However, if fighting for what is right is one of your virtues in life, speaking up becomes even more critical. One should not be afraid of doing it as there are ways to prep oneself properly before doing it and how to conduct oneself while speaking. Remember to stay grounded while doing it and maintain your stance toward something. Speaking up is a bold maneuver; it can make you feel like a hero by speaking and standing up for something when no one else wants to question or oppose something that can harm other people.

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