How to Start Speaking with Confidence
I’ve always been outspoken, I don’t see why not! If I have something to say and no one’s saying anything, then why wouldn’t I say it? But even still, I always had this niggling feeling that I was annoying or that people didn’t like me because I spoke up too much. I could justify this feeling if I was one of those people that just talk and talk and talk and don’t get the message that they’ve been talking waaaaay too long, but I’m pretty good at picking up on social keys and knowing when to shut up. It was more the fact that I was one of the only, if not the only, girl who was speaking up in, which made me feel like the odd one out.
it’s ingrained into our mind that it’s more natural for men to be in charge. I guess that’s why we all freak out so much when a woman speaks up, it’s a shock to our system. Then when you combine it with the hundreds of movies and cultural references that make the ‘loud’ woman the ‘bad’ character, it all builds this idea that loud women are wrong and probably a bitch.
Somehow we’re used to the sound of men’s voices more than women’s. We grow up with multiple references for men in leadership roles; our fathers, our police, our politicians, even when it comes to school, most of our teachers are female but the headmaster is more commonly male - so it’s ingrained into our mind that it’s more natural for men to be in charge. I guess that’s why we all freak out so much when a woman speaks up, it’s a shock to our system. Then when you combine it with the hundreds of movies and cultural references that make the ‘loud’ woman the ‘bad’ character, it all builds this idea that loud women are wrong and probably a bitch. It’s programmed into us.
Despite living with the feeling that I speak too much, I cannot thank my parents enough for encouraging me to have a voice. Sure, it might not have made me the most popular girl in school, or even at university, but I am a much happier and fulfilled adult because of it. Using your voice is not an easy task, but it’s an essential one, especially for girls!
Speaking up is more than just expressing your wants and needs, it’s reaffirming to yourself and to everyone around you, that you deserve to be listened to and that you can make your own decisions.
SPEAK UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS
People will always try to get you to do what they want and unless you know what you want to do and can tell them that with confidence, then you will always end up living someone else’s life, instead of your own.
So it's crucial for women to learn how to speak up and assert ourselves, as our life path is already predetermined for us based on our gender. We’re expected to get married and commit our lives to raise children, and although that might be what you want as well, there will still be times when you want to do something a little differently than your parents or your partner wants.
Speaking up is more than just expressing your wants and needs, it’s reaffirming to yourself and to everyone around you, that you deserve to be listened to and that you can make your own decisions. This is true even if you’re naturally a quiet person. Speaking up isn’t about being chatty or finding it easy to talk to people, it’s quite simply the belief that you are equal and entitled to respect, validation, and to be taken seriously.
Since girls are encouraged to be quiet, polite, and unopinionated, it's not always easy to start speaking up, especially around others. You might be feeling scared to express yourself and be met with laughter or conflict. So to make things a little easier, here are some of my tips for how to become a more confident speaker.
WHAT NOT TO DO AS A SPEAKER
Don’t fall into the trap that men like ‘quiet’ girls. I’m sure some men do, but they don’t sound like great fun to be with! If someone wants to be with you and not listen to you, then they clearly only see you as an object.
Don’t let anyone shame you for being ‘loud’. Girls can guilty of doing this too, but your voice is an example and a learning opportunity, to normalise women’s voices and to encourage them to express their voice too.
Don’t quiet yourself to make other’s feel comfortable. Your voice is not a burden, your voice is not annoying, your voice is entitled to be there and if others are offended by it, they have to learn to be more accepting. Everyone’s voice is as important as each other’s.
Don’t think you have nothing valid to say. You don’t have to give a TED talk about nuclear science, you just have to talk about things that matter to you. You do have opinions, you just might not be used to expressing them to others.
LISTEN TO AND ENCOURAGE YOUR VOICE
you might have spent your whole life suppressing your thoughts and feeling like you shouldn’t have opinions or ideas, so that can take a while to unlearn. You have to nurture your voice. It’s there, but just like everything else, it gets bigger and stronger when you accept it and encourage it to grow.
It’s not always easy to speak up about sensitive things, you might have spent your whole life suppressing your thoughts and feeling like you shouldn’t have opinions or ideas, so that can take a while to unlearn. You have to nurture your voice. It’s there, but just like everything else, it gets bigger and stronger when you accept it and encourage it to grow. You can do simple things like:
Ask yourself questions, even silly ones, like, ‘what’s my favourite movie and why’.
Start to engage more in discussion, even written discussion will help you feel more comfortable in your thoughts and opinions.
Write! Even if you don’t express all your thoughts to someone else, it’s still really important to be able to express yourself to you! Write in a journal, write some notes, write a poem or a song, it’s all worthwhile in building your inner voice.
OVERCOMING YOUR FEAR OF SPEAKING
The fear of speaking up will always be there until you begin to do it more and more so it becomes normal. The fear is usually not based on something real. It’s highly unlikely that someone will laugh at you, tell you you’re wrong, or even tell you to shut up, but you’ll only believe that when you start to speak up and see what happens. The fun part will come when you begin to see how much your life can change when you start to express yourself more. You might even find people to surround yourself with that fall closer in line with your ideals and beliefs, making your friendship circle much more accepting!
Your voice is genuinely one of the most, if not the most, powerful tools you have. You are entitled to use it, and you make the world a more interesting, diverse, and beautiful place by using it.
If you’re interested to try speaking up or you’d like to see other women bravely using their voice, then join us at our next Girl Unmuted event!