Speaking your mind is a skill that is necessary in both work and personal relationships. Follow these tips to overcome the anxiety of speaking up for what you want and believe.
Start off small
If you are shy or have a difficult time speaking your mind, start off small. You don’t need to blurt out your concerns at a staff meeting or explode at your partner about something that has been bothering you for year. Instead, practice speaking your mind to your friends about small things. Even if it’s something simple — like deciding what movie to see or where to go for dinner — speak up about what you really want. Participating in even small decisions will help you learn to speak your mind in more critical situations.
Think before you speak
Though some people don’t speak their minds at all, others speak without being considerate. Before you speak, think and choose your words carefully. You don’t need to be hurtful, rude or aggressive when speaking your mind. Insults and foul language aren’t necessary and will not help you get your way. By thinking about your words before you say them, you’ll be able to maintain respect and relationships. You want to be assertive without turning people off.
No matter how passionate you are about something, don’t scream or yell when speaking about it. Raising your voice tends to make people tune out. Whether you are speaking your mind to your kid’s teacher or to your own husband, getting loud won’t benefit you. Speak succinctly and clearly with a calm yet determined tone. You’ll find that remaining calm is easier if you speak your mind at the time something bothers you, rather than letting your feelings brew and intensify.
Join a group
If you feel strongly about a particular cause or your political stance but have never spoken your mind about it before, join a group or organization for like-minded people. At meetings and events, force yourself to participate until speaking your mind becomes easier.
Do it in writing
If you aren’t comfortable with your verbal skills, speak your mind in writing. Write an email or letter to your child’s principal, your congressman, a store manager or to whomever you want to express your feelings. The written word can be very powerful.
Some people avoid speaking their minds because they don’t want to offend anyone or get into a conflict. Accept the fact that everyone will not always agree with you — and don’t be afraid of ruffling some feathers.
More tips on speaking your mind