Speaking up to get something you want may be hard, but it's important. Instead of keeping how you really feel inside and stewing over it, releasing what you feel could relieve a lot of unnecessary stress. Here are some tips on how to best express yourself in situations when you may usually hold your tongue.
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Don't Be Embarrassed
One of the most difficult stages of learning to speak up is getting over your embarassment. When you feel too embarrassed to ask something or tell someone how you really feel, in retrospect you may sense that holding back was a mistake.
For instance, at work your colleagues that speak up may get all the projects, while you are left to tag along and never really get your chance to shine. Instead, recognize the embarassment you may have from being in the limelight and put it aside. Tell yourself that this is your moment to shine, and that you may be missing out on a great opportunity.
Those that are easily embarrassed usually also suffer from a lack of self-confidence that may be physically and emotionally holding them back. If you feel many times that what you have to say may not be appreciated, or that you aren't the right person to say something, this could be due to low self-confidence and a fear of being shut down.
One of the best examples that exhibit the importance of self-confidence in speaking out is when you come across something you think is unfair. For instance, if your bank is charging overdraft fees on a day that you know you made a deposit, it's time to talk to the bank and figure it out.
Unless you act on these small injustices that many of us experience every day, your self-confidence levels will remain in the dump and you will feel even worse for speaking out. So even if you think that you don't deserve it, say it before it's too late.
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This can be a major problem for those that struggle to speak out. It is important not to make too many short-cuts for yourself and others; if you need to get something done be demanding and organized with what you want to say. If not, you may begin to fall back on excuses like "It's only a few dollars" or "I'll try again another time". If there is something you need to say, don't be lazy or put it off for later, just say it as it is!
This tip goes hand in hand with the recommendation to be more confident and demanding. When speaking with a customer service representative, a co-worker, or even your spouse, make sure that you say what you want, but as kindly as possible. Those that yell and curse to get what they want are speaking up, but in a destructive way that leaves bitterness with those they treated that way. You will get the most out of what you are asking for if you come at it in a kind fashion that shows you are patient, but concerned.
If you have trouble directing the conversation in your direction, start by asking something personal to remind them that you are human.
If you are speaking to your banker about high interest rates, for example, explain to them that you are going through difficult economic times. This may influence the way they think about you and cause them to be more lenient to what you are asking for. Also, make sure to ask them something about themselves like, "Maybe you understand where I'm coming from?" This will get them interested in what you have to say and keep them listening.
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Yes, we've already said it twice, but this is the most important piece of advice for speaking up. You may not be heard the first time, but keep saying what you need to say and someone will hear you. Although it sounds as simple as repeating yourself, persistency can actually be difficult if you are worried about pleasing the other person.
Being persistent means more than making your point - it is making sure that your point is heard by another person and that that person understands the importance or urgency of what you have to say. Even if this means you need to talk to more than one person, like a manager, or to go through other routes, like your spouse's parent, to get the message across. Be persistent, but remember the importance of your message and don't let the anticipation of reactions get in your way.
And for a final tip - always speak from the heart, it will get you far!