Do you speak your mind or hold your tongue? I belong to a family where speaking your mind is frowned upon, heck whoever is around you will either leave the room or start talking about something else and ignore you completely. You might as well be invisible~
That said, till I hit my late 20s I was the keep silent, hold my tongue, do not ruffle any feathers kind of person. But then life happened, and I started evolving, developing a personality and attitude to boot. I was no longer naive, or ready to bend over and let people walk over me. But guess what, the rest of the world was not ready to evolve. They were happy living in their “denial” world with the “what I don’t know can’t hurt me or affect me” attitude-based bubble.
I am not an unreasonable or “I get kicks out of rattling people” kind of person, but when people around me are talking about things untrue, or believe in all they get via FB or Whatsapp, it irks me. There are days when I just sit silently, trying to not listen to them, but then there are days when I have to intervene and correct. The minute I do that, they go silent. Reality bites and they cannot accept that someone younger than them makes sense.
Some of the joys I have discovered by speaking my mind are:
1. It is liberating – you are just sharing what you know, and no longer swallowing words.
2. Over time, I have stopped feeling guilty for voicing my thoughts and ruffling feathers. I no longer mull over “maybe I should not said it, maybe I should have worded it differently, should I apologize, or justify why I did/said what I did”
3. I love to read up on things, perpetually on google trying to dig deeper [Chronic Infoholic as i refer to myself] – terminologies, world news, business, etc and when I read, I tend to absorb the information and so, when someone is talking about a topic I am aware of and I enjoy being a part of the conversation, share facts and insights.
4. It gives me the opportunity to share my knowledge and to express my thoughts – be it at work or personal front.
5. I am open to people debating/arguing and correcting me if I am wrong. I do not get angry or get upset/hurt. I am happy to share and learn. I don’t shy away from confrontation and would rather discuss and sort it out than stay silent and let it fester within me.
A few tips on getting started on this journey of speaking your mind without feeling guilty:
1. Collect your thoughts – In our excitement, we might get carried away or too emotional. It is important to collect your thoughts and then share them. Not necessary to articulate perfectly, but just enough to make sense. Remember people are likely to pause and all attention will be on you, so don’t get flustered and share away.
2. Start with people you are comfortable with – Anything done for the first time can be intimidating, and have us second-guessing ourselves. Therefore it is best to start with those you are comfortable with – family or friends or even colleagues. Start by sneaking in a comment or two within a conversation, and be prepared for some counter-arguments or questions thrown at you. When you are amidst those you trust and are comfortable with will help you be less self-critical and make the process easier.
3. Be assertive but not aggressive – Take your time before speaking up — don’t mumble or talk too fast. Quite often people who are silent get ignored and so it’s important to make yourself heard- moderate your tone, regulate your volume. Do not come across aggressive [anger, loud voice, overbearing]
4. Remain Confident – Believe in yourself, and remember to tell yourself “I know what am talking about, I deserve to be heard”. When speaking up, look the others in the eye, do not shrink away, or stop halfway and do away with fillers – umm, err, etc… If you have to fake confidence, do it.. over time, people will start to believe in you & your words.
5. Have no fear of confrontation & ridicule – Stop trying to please others and remember not all will be interested in what you have to say and that is alright.
What is the worst that could happen? Your thoughts/ideas will get shot down or ignored. It’s fine, do not think about what others will think.
Believe in what you are saying – have conviction in your words/thoughts. Let others know you have an opinion to share and make yourself heard.
It is always good to speak up, and share, but one thing to steer clear from is shoving it down someone’s throat.
6. Time & Place – As with everything else, you need to know when to speak up and when to stay silent or wait for the right moment to arrive. But that does not mean you wait forever. For eg, at an official event when someone on the stage says something that you disagree with, wait for the Q&A section, or speak to the person after the event. Speaking your mind is not about just randomly throwing words out, you need to be aware of the place/circumstance/people. In fact, there might be times when need to open with “I’m sorry but I have to disagree, or I’m sorry what you said is incorrect” and then continue to share your thoughts. It is good to be polite, no point in just screaming /shouting and creating a ruckus.
What are your thoughts on Speaking your mind? Do you?