On speaking up… April 21, 2019 by Jamie WestermanWhen you speak up, it’s not for you alone. I always wanted to blend in. I was most comfortable flying under the radar. If I liked what other people liked, agreed even if I didn’t agree, and held my tongue, I could avoid my least favorite thing, confrontation. To this day, any conflict gives me a slight wave of nausea. I don’t even like fighting with my kids and I’m their boss! BUT, I’m older and wiser now, and have learned a few lessons along the way. Let me share them with you: If you remain silent, your approval is assumed. I used to think my silence would help avoid a battle I didn’t want to have. What I didn’t realize is, remaining silent is as much a form of communication as speaking up. And when I didn’t speak, it was assumed I was giving the ok for something I WAS NOT ok with. At that point, whatever followed was as much my fault as anyone’s because I didn’t stop it from happening. It will give you confidence and inspire others. As with most things, if you speak up once it will get easier to do. Knowing that your voice is heard will make you proud, especially if it felt like a challenge to get it out there. It may also inspire someone else to use their own voice. It’s scary at times for me to draw attention to myself, and speaking up most certainly does that, but to inspire, people need to be watching you. Showing others how to stand up for an idea, a person, or yourself shows them they too can be brave. You have important things to say. You are unique. You come with your own education, experiences, and perspective. You have value to give in every situation and silence only ensures no one knows your talents, ambitions, or desires. And who knows what your thoughts can bring to the table. Because we all think differently, we can all learn and grow from each other. Other people are thinking it too. You ever notice at a meeting or in a social situation, someone will bring something up, and everyone chimes in “yea,” “me too,” “that was my thought!” There’s a good chance that at the very moment you speak up, someone else is trying to find the courage to do the same. When you give a voice to something, it makes it easier for others who share your views to speak their own. If you don’t respect your voice, no one will. Listen, trust me on this, in my experience it’s a lot easier to teach people from the get-go to respect you than it is to be a push over for years and then try to demand respect. If you don’t say what you need to say, not only do you lose respect for yourself, but the people around you will take full advantage of you. You will have better relationships if you are honest. Issues will be worked through instead of ignored. You will avoid the frustration that comes when you are disappointed you didn’t speak up. And the resentment that comes because someone couldn’t read your mind (ladies, AMIRIGHT!). Respecting your voice also means that you do what you say and say what you do. Instead of holding it in and then going another direction, speak up and people will trust and respect you even when they don’t agree with you. Speaking up isn’t easy. It’s something I must make a conscious decision to do. But I have never regretted sharing an idea, sticking up for someone (myself included!), saying no to something I didn’t want to do, and the list goes on. Take these lessons, keep them in your back pocket, and the next time you find yourself holding your tongue, let it go and see what happens!