How to speak your mind confidently
Have you ever wished you hadn’t kept quiet during a conversation or situation?
Perhaps you'll have caught yourself saying statements such as:
- “I’m nervous about speaking up in meetings at work, especially when my boss is there.”
- “I didn’t present my business at the networking meeting because I don’t like it when the spotlight is on me.”
- “I didn’t start a conversation with that woman because I thought she was out of my league.”
- “I didn’t ask for the salary I wanted because I thought they’d say no."
- “I don’t like to speak up when my step-children do something wrong because I might upset their father.”
- “I don’t ask people to pay what my services are worth because they might not buy at all.”
- “I daren’t complain to my partner about the way they treat me because they might fly off the handle.”
If you recognise yourself in any of these statements, or you've had similar thoughts, know that you're not alone.
When it comes to working, many of the people who say these things are actually very capable managers, professionals and business owners. When they're asked, “What has this reluctance to confront issues/put yourself in the spotlight/speak your mind/ask for what you’re worth, cost you?”
They will often say things like:
- a promotion
- happy relationships
- thousands of pounds
- my self-esteem
- a frustrating life
- wasted time
And, if this reluctance is costing us so much, why do we still fail to speak confidently about what’s on our minds? Often, it’s because we fear we’ll make things worse, look stupid or be rejected.
Yet, have you noticed that the most successful people in their personal, career and/or business lives are often the people who are good at speaking their minds? They don’t hide their light under a bushel. Nor do they ‘put up and shut up'.
So, how can we gain the courage to speak up when we get the opportunity?
5 tips to feeling confident
If you have ever left a meeting or conversation, wishing in hindsight that you hadn’t kept quiet, these five successful tips will increase your courage to speak your mind.
1. Get leverage on yourself
We often stop ourselves speaking up because we’re counting the cost of doing it; we think of the implications of it going wrong and, instead, lean towards the benefits of avoiding speaking up.
But, people who have the confidence to speak up think have a different point of view. They think about the benefits of speaking their mind and it going right and the costs of not speaking up.
So, switch your focus. For instance, work out how much playing it safe is costing you in terms of your self-esteem, profits, salary, happiness, as well as other opportunities.
Think about the opportunities and rewards that can come with speaking up. After all, you may be giving someone a chance to say “yes” to your ideas. A professional woman told me she won a 13% pay rise the first year she started speaking up more in meetings, presenting at work events and putting forward ideas to senior staff members.
2. Minimise the dangers of speaking your mind by learning how to do it skillfully
Take opportunities to be coached in communication skills such as networking, presentation skills, conflict management, selling, relationship skills and negotiating. That person who got the 13% pay rise? Due to the increasing skill in communicating her thoughts and ideas, they also received a merit raise and a promotion to a more managerial role, with more responsibility.
Coaching can be an invaluable tool to help you boost your confidence. Find a confidence coach today. Simply browse profiles until you find a person you resonate with, and send them an email. It's time to invest in yourself - you deserve it.
3. Preparation is key
People who have more confidence to speak up often prepare what they’re going to say. It’s more difficult to trust ourselves to speak our minds if we’re angry, stressed, nervous or just haven’t thought it through.
By taking the time to prepare what you’re going to say, you can take a step back, see things from many perspectives and think of the most compelling arguments and ideas - as well as persuasive communication styles.
If you don’t have time to prepare, see if you can negotiate time to go away and think about something or buy time by asking more questions about a topic first, rather than pressuring yourself to give an answer.
4. Be flexible in your communication style
People who have more confidence to speak their minds often adjust the way they communicate to suit the audience. For instance, if you have a boss or client who likes facts, give them lots of facts to support your ideas or the price you’re asking for. If your boss or client is excited by innovative ideas, focus on how innovative your ideas are.
5. Listen carefully to the other person first
People who speak confidently stop focusing inward on what they should or want to say. This works for two reasons. The first is because when we forget about ourselves, our confidence grows. And the second is that when we listen to others, we learn what’s important to them. When we know that we become better at negotiating win-wins and presenting persuasive arguments and ideas. We’re more likely to say things they’ll be open to hearing and interested in.
What’s your next step to becoming more successful at speaking up in your personal life, business and career?
I wish you every success.