Your voice matters. We need to hear it.
And even if it’s terrifying to present in front of superiors, share information in large groups or speak at all – you are better for it when you are assertive and speak your mind. In fact, you safeguard yourself from tough situations by building the confidence to stand up for yourself. And when you look around at the opportunities you have in your life, and in your day, you’ll realize that you have many opportunities to practice this talent and make it a strength.
Be prepared to professionally share your successes and opportunities.
I had a work-meeting recently and there are many things that need to be fixed in my area. I had a choice in that moment, I could choose to be an active participant and be involved in developing the solution or I could shrink into the background and hope for the best. Being an active participant isn’t easy and it’s often frustrating – but by sharing my ideas for the solution, I’m able to make them my own and reaffirm my place on the team – as a willing member of the team. Make the most of the situations you have available to you – even if they’re hard, even if they’re frustrating – when you actively participate you give yourself the voice you deserve.
Be prepared to speak with authority.
I went to a meeting recently where we divided into small groups. Somehow I became the note-taker, which meant I’d probably also need to be the speaker. I was with a group that was much more tenured than I was, but when it came time to present, I made a choice to share my group’s great ideas. I spoke confidently in the large group – and the speaker even gave me a gold star for sharing our group’s information (also – I didn’t know that was something that adults gave to each other, but I still happily accepted it). You are going to be presented with many times in your life that you will have to speak in front of others. Always be ready. Be ready to share your opinion. Be ready to be the first to speak. Be ready to listen to others. When you are ready to participate, you share your voice as a valuable member of any group.
Be prepared to wait until you’re really ready to share your voice.
Ever have one of those people who just doesn’t get it? I sure do. And somehow, they always want to share their misinformation via email – which is no place to have a discussion that may lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication. A former supervisor shared with me great advice. When you’re sending an email – remember that they could forward it to anyone. So always type what you’d want anyone to hear at any time. And today, I had to wait a few hours to respond to a few messages. Because I needed to share my voice and keep this person on track, but I didn’t need to start something unnecessary. It’s ok to cool down or gear up to send an email. When you wait until you’re really ready, you share your best voice with those who need it.
Be prepared to ask questions the right way.
I sat through a tough meeting today where the most logical summation seemed to be, “That doesn’t make a bit of sense.” But instead of jumping over the table in a fit of rage, I explained my situation and asked relevant, appropriate questions. Sometimes I had to stop and think of how to ask the question in the least confrontational or least emotional way – but I did it.
There are many times that you’ll be presented with a chance to freak out or find out. Use this opportunity to try to understand what is going on, really understand. When you can ask questions in a non-emotional way, you share your voice to discover.
Be prepared to let it all out.
Some days seem to be too much and you need a chance to let it all out. Figure out the best way to do this. Whether it is sharing with a trusted friend or something else that will relieve the tension, realize that you can’t hold everything in. You need to share your voice to continue to grow. And by speaking frustrations, excitement, goals or ideas aloud – you’ll be more likely to share your voice to process and improve.
The ways for you to share your voice are varied and important, but they don’t always present themselves with vivid clarity. Take time to think about situations that may arise and practice, in advance, what you’d like the outcome of each situation to be. This will make you more likely, and more prepared, to share your valuable voice.