The Risk of Not Speaking Up

Holding back from speaking up or waiting to be asked to speak serves no one. I myself became uber-quiet in high school. I don’t know what happened. I just stopped raising my hand. I found myself becoming less involved, and less engaged. It was kind of easy to hide out.

But once I began working, hiding out hid me. No one could see me, or hear me for that matter. Real conversations happened elsewhere – and the organization suffered from a lack of authentic conversation to help it adapt.

Our voice carries greater meaning than just the words. It carries our convictions, our passion, or lack of passion. It conveys more about who we are as people. In order to advance our professional development, our thinking must be seen and heard. To keep our organizations healthy and relevant, it must hear from all of its living parts, including the quietest ones.

Simply keeping our heads down and just getting the job done without speaking up can marginalize us. Worse, it may convey that we have consented to being marginalized.

How to develop your voice? Here are some thing you might consider:

  1. Gently remind yourself that this is not about you. It’s the topic. It’s your organization’s health and well-being. That’s your end game.

  2. Assume the best. Assume that people want to hear from you. Assume that you all want the best for the organization.

  3. Put your hand up in every meeting, even if you think it’s not important. Comment on one thing. Ask one question. You’re getting used to your voice.

  4. Speak slowly. Give your heart and gut a chance to inform you as talk. (I am a speedy talker and found when I slowed down a little bit, I was more calm, and better understood.)

  5. Let it go. You don’t need to hit a home run. Whatever you say, it is just fine. Speak as yourself. You are enough.


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