How to speak your mind confidently
Have you ever wished you hadn’t kept quiet? Have you ever caught yourself saying these kinds of statements?
“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.”
You're not alone.
Many people who say these things are 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, or ask for what you’re worth, cost you?”
They often say things like:
- “a promotion”
- “happy relationships”
- “thousands of pounds”
- “my self-esteem”
- “a frustrating life”
- “wasted time”
…and much more.
Well, if it costs 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 business lives are the people who are good at speaking their mind or speaking up? 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?
If you’ve ever wished 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 I mentioned who got the 13% pay rise also got a merit rise and a promotion to a management role the more skilful she became at communicating.
Coaching can be an invaluable tool to help you boost your confidence. Find a confidence coach today.
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 mind 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. Why does this work? For two reasons. The first is because when we forget about ourselves our confidence grows. 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.
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