3 Simple Steps to Find Ease in Your Authentic Voice
Let’s be real. Why is it uncouth or ‘bitchy’ to speak up? I don’t mean in volume but in truth.
Have you ever suppressed your true voice or your real feelings? You are not alone. I know I certainly have.
Have we feared rejection, controversy, or being patronized? It is my opinion that many women pretend that everything is ‘fine’, and we hide from speaking out because we are taught from a young age to be ‘nice’. Somehow, being true to our own voice, power and thoughts isn’t nice if it is in contrast to what is expected or preferred.
An example of this demeaning and shaming culture towards women can be read in a recent Wall Street Journal article about Jill Biden written by Joseph Epstein. Epstein wrote a scathing editorial, describing the use of ‘Dr.’ before her name, fraudulent and comical because she received her doctorate in education, not in medicine. The shaming is prevalent in our society, how dare Dr. Jill Biden have a profession she can be proud of and recognized for, not to mention the value created nurturing young people.
As my personal and professional relationships expanded, I felt like I was drowning.
My modus operandi was to suppress my voice and authentic self and I often felt that I was not ‘heard’ or understood. Looking back, how could I have been heard and understood if I weren’t being true to myself by speaking up?
Recently in a conversation, I became aware that I was actually voicing my honest feelings and convictions. In fact, this new phenomenon is happening more often. Yes, speaking out, being authentic and vulnerable is uncomfortable, and at the same time, it feels good.
Maybe the change has come from getting older; I no longer care what people think and I am more inclined to speak my mind without trying to appease others. The ‘why’ does not matter, what matters is that I have found my authentic voice. I will not be quieted any longer.
Here is an example of how this change has manifested itself in my daily life:
I recently lost an entire day waiting for a scheduled home inspection that somehow failed to take place. At the end of the day, I called the scheduling office where I explained that though I understand things happen, my time and energy are important, and I was not paid to wait. The customer service representative was defensive and condescending and the ‘younger me’ would have apologized for any misunderstanding and just rescheduled. This time, though I was respectful, I assertively advocated for another appointment for the next business day and also shortened the service window to before 10am in the morning so I wouldn’t waste another full day waiting.
When I got off the phone, I felt empowered. Was I also uncomfortable asserting my needs? YES.
The service provider arrived the next business day at 10am per my request. The home service was completed and we both were laughing by the end of the service call. This was another reminder that with every challenge, there is an opportunity for growth.
I use these 3 steps to ensure I continue to have my voice be heard.
1. Trust your intuition. Humility and critical thinking are important but if something does not feel right, it is a sign that you must speak up. We can still be kind while being assertive.
2. Stay focused. How is staying focused a benefit? In my scheduler example, I was firm and focused on a resolution. Focusing on the solution takes the focus away from wasting too much time ruminating on the problem. It also prevents any ‘he said she said’ scenario which is generally a complete waste of time and energy.
3. Be kind. It is important that communication is delivered in a way that the receiving person can hear it. When seeking a solution to the missed home inspection appointment, I did not raise my voice or blame anyone. I kept focused and stayed in my own lane. It was written in the classic business book ‘What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School’; basically, do not bite the hand that feeds you. I do not need to be right; I just need a resolution.
It takes practice and while practicing, I strive to manifest emotionally and spiritually healthy relationships. By adjusting my behavior, the relationships entering my life now are healthier and more respectful. Hmmm, could this be because I now respect myself enough not to abandon what really matters to me? Whatever the reason, I find it incredibly empowering to stand my ground for no other reason than because I am worth it.
Yes, it is uncomfortable, and I still walk away from these conversations feeling like maybe I was too much or wondering if I have made them mad at me. I must remind myself that this is old thinking and programming which no longer serves.
Moral of the story: Use your voice. Your truth is needed in the world, now more than ever.