How do you build the confidence to speak up for yourself or others when decisions are made? How many times have you asked yourself: “Should I have said something when I had the chance?” Consider the following ideas when deciding to speak up and become a solid contributor on your job or within your relationships:
(1) Be confident that your idea, solution and perspective is desired and appreciated.
More likely than not, you bring a different perspective! Your knowledge and experiences are unique. You may be the only one at the table that can bring a particular perspective. You were placed on that job or committee or at that organization because you have something to offer. Your perspective may come from being a woman, an African American, a Christian, or apart of a specific group or culture.
(2) You have a responsibility to speak up despite that it might cost you.
You don’t have the right to keep it to yourself! It is not about you! You have been placed at this point in your life for a reason. Risk the embarrassment for appearing out of touch, the possibility that your solution will not be chosen, or that your idea will be rejected. People and groups often benefit when several diverse perspectives are considered. You might ask yourself: “What will happen if I remain quiet?”
(3) Do your homework.
One sure way to know that your voice will be taken seriously is that you are knowledgeable about the topic at hand. Do your research about the topic prior to the meeting and study your leaders to determine when and how they may receive ideas and solutions from others.
There are other reasons that might prevent people from speaking up when the stakes are high:
- Fear of losing a job or relationship;
- Inability to articulate your ideas in a short period of time;
- Inability to predict the outcome that will result if you offer input.
All these reasons to remain silent are valid, especially when you find yourself in an environment where diverse ideas are not sought or appreciated. However, I implore you to realize that there are times when you only have one moment to make your contribution – or speak up for yourself or a cause – those moments when decisions are being made.
So, we need to dispel some of those reasons. First, important jobs and relationships will not be lost when you speak out of a sincere desire to be fair and inclusive of all people affected by the decision. Secondly, there might be times you have the opportunity to offer your input in a smaller setting or after you have written and thought out your ideas. Finally, don’t worry about the outcome because you are just one person with a particular perspective in times where the decision is made by a group or someone else. You just want to ensure that you are at peace once the moment has passed because you mustered the courage to speak up for what you believe in.
In summary, in our personal and professional lives, we sometimes find ourselves in situations where we’ve said to ourselves, “Why should I speak up in this meeting?” Or the alternative: “What will happen if I don’t speak up in this meeting?” At that time, we need to meditate on this thought:
Final Thought: EVERYTHING does not have to be said, but the DIFFICULT things often must be said (at what may seem to be an inappropriate time). It should be done with the appropriate tone and spirit of peace.