It’s easy to speak out when you're with the majority, the cool kids.
But what if you're not?
What do you do when you have a different opinion...and you're afraid how others might react to that? How do you gain the CONFIDENCE to speak out about potentially controversial or emotional issues that matter to you? Most people in that situation feel stuck because they can only see two possibilities:
1) Sugarcoat the message and be inauthentic
They don't want to risk the backlash, so they downplay what they actually think and feel, sugarcoating the message...
2) Say what they think but lose the relationships
Come out swinging, forcing their opinion onto others, killing the message, as well as the relationships...
Either way, we end up trusting ourselves less to do what’s right, and losing the CONFIDENCE we have to speak our truth to the world. But what if you're able to express your opinion AND be completely respectful? This means you’re able to influence others, change minds, and impact the world positively to achieve your goals and dreams.
In this article, I'm going to share with you three key lessons I've picked up from personal experience and from some of the most influential change-makers effecting positive change in the world… so you too, can gain the confidence to do exactly that.
And at the end, I'm going to invite you to Speak For Change, a one-day event that's literally free where you can continue to grow your influence and develop your ability to make your message compelling and engage others in powerful conversations.
So let's dive in.
First, let's bust a myth about CONFIDENCE. It's not something you "get".
You don't wake up with confidence after attending a two-day course. Or reading a best-selling book. Or watching 15 TED talks. Or psyching yourself up with positive self-talk. Yep, sorry to burst that bubble. The only way you can get confident about speaking up about things that matter, for you to make an impact in the world, is to actually DO it I’m not going to tell you it’s easy, because it’s not. However, we’re on the same journey, and I hope these three lessons will make it easier for you.
Lesson One: Clarity of intention
Your opinion deserves to be heard. Yes it does. And when you power it up with the clarity of intention…you’ll feel much more confident about what you want to say. So ask yourself, what is the outcome you want?
Is the outcome focused on personal interest, or is it towards a greater purpose?
When your intention is pure, it is easier to stay focused on the purpose for speaking up.
Of course, that's easier said than done. Because when emotions kick in, we forget we're speaking for a positive outcome. Our thoughts take on a life of its own, and that voice that’s speaking…we're not sure if it’s the ego or us anymore. When that happens, we risk destroying any connection we’ve built, and the walls start to come up.
Just remember, your intention gives you as much power as the act of speaking up. So stay conscious of your intention at all times.
Lesson Two: Be Humble
Not everyone agrees with you. If people don't agree with you, it actually means you are on the right track. People ARE listening to you. However, when it comes to resolving complex issues of our society, no ONE person has the complete solution. This means no matter how strong your opinion is, it’s probably not the whole truth.
So when we speak, we’re really trying to add our perspectives into a collective consciousness, and that requires us to explore and find common grounds to work from to get closer to a positive outcome.
You want to express your opinion AND encourage others to do the same.
You have to be willing to take in new perspectives as others share them with you.
When it comes to influencing others of a different opinion…The more forceful you are, the more resistant they become. On the other side, the more tentatively you speak, the more open they become. So use language that says you're expressing an opinion.
Try replacing "the fact is" or "obviously, everybody knows" with "in my opinion", and you'll start to pull in people, instead of pushing people away.
Lesson Three: Commit to Practice
The only way you can get better at the skill of speaking about things that matter and engaging in dialogue, is to actually do it. And the best way to do it is to find a community that is supportive, encouraging, and yet can challenge your opinions. Respectfully.
Bonus if it's not some Facebook group where everyone is of a similar profile...
Try finding a community where people come from all walks, children, homemakers, the undergrad, the corporate head honcho... See if they get what you say. Have the wisdom to hold space that there could be another side, and the courage to admit you may not have the full picture.
Now if you've read this far, you already know speaking for what you stand for often involves changing how people think and feel. And one of these first people is YOU.
But you're not alone.
So again, at Speak for Change, we know it’s not easy speaking for what you stand for, and honour those who do so.
On the 10th November, Speak for Change will gather Everyday Leaders, just like you, from all over Singapore to speak, share and connect to create greater positive change. People who are on their own journey of getting clarity on their identity and mission, to finding their tribe, to becoming an inspirational and purpose driven leader.
Whether you’re looking to get ahead in your career, preparing to lead, or leading a team or community, the skills you can learn, the people you meet, and the conversations you’ll have will set you up for success in a world of Change.
There will be a panel discussion on “Navigating Challenging Dialogue for Positive Change” with panellists including Lawrence Lim, the organiser of Lee Kuan Yew's state funeral.
It also showcases the impact we can make when we put our hearts and minds together as a community. Exhibits include the work of Glenn Lim, the winner of Singapore Youth Award, as well as booths that promote environmental and sustainability issues.
If you’re ready to grow the confidence and open your mind to speak up for what you stand for and appreciate the challenge you're going through to become a better version of yourself, then get your ticket at speakforchange.sg/event.
See you there.
It's all happening at Speak for Change 2018