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We all struggle at times with revealing intimate parts of ourselves, especially when we cannot predict what the reaction or outcome will be.
However, with communication breakdowns cited by therapists as the top reason for marriage problems, 72% of surveyed employees, and 69% of workplace managers saying they avoid speaking up, even when they know it will be detrimental to their role, project, or business, it is more important than ever to step up and change the way we communicate.
Finding your voice is more than just being willing to speak up in uncomfortable situations – it can open doors for you to embrace your unique difference, empower yourself and others, and expand creative and innovative thinking.
Here are 4 powerful ways that finding your voice can contribute to your life and how to start choosing them:
1. Encourage open-mindedness
To truly have your voice, your first need is to stop judging it. Open and effective communication requires open-mindedness towards both yourself and others, taking you beyond polarized attitudes of right/wrong, good/bad, positive/negative and allowing space for different perspectives that may arise. When you interact with others, communicate without judgment. Don’t second-guess your thoughts or ideas, and listen without bias to what others have to say. If judgments, fears, or reactions come up (whether they are coming from you or another person), challenge yourself not to hold onto them, and let them go. When you realize perspectives are just different, not right or wrong, you don’t have to align with or reject any of them. You can simply ask, “What will create the most here?”
2. Expand curiosity & creative thinking
Once you eliminate judgments and have a more open approach to communication, a space of exploration, collaboration and engagement can begin to emerge. When your attention is no longer on trying to get it right, say the right thing, or avoid the wrong reaction, your natural curiosity can begin to show. Empower creativity and innovation in yourself and others by asking questions like: “What else is possible we haven’t considered?” “What ideas do we have that could change this or make it greater?” “What do I know about this that could contribute?” “What do others know about this?” “Who or what can we add to this to have it succeed? You can begin simply to ask: “What else?”
3. Allow expansion and personal growth
The more we hold back our voices, the more we are actually holding back our value and unique ability to contribute to others. On the flipside, if you allow yourself to speak up and put ideas forward (even when you are sure someone else has already thought of them), ask questions (even if you think they are silly or too obvious), and if you flag issues or roadblocks (rather than try to avoid appearing ‘negative’ or handling them alone), you will begin to develop a greater picture of the difference you can make to your colleagues, friends, clients, project, products, or services. Don’t assume anyone knows better or more than you do – they just know different. “What do I know about this I haven’t acknowledged?” “What am I capable of that I haven’t considered?” “What am I aware of that others may not be?”
4. Improve your mental and physical well-being
If you stay silent in the times when you know something greater is possible, or a change is required – whether for you, in your business projects, or other relationships, it begins to impact both your mind and body. Holding things in and bottling them up creates emotional stress and tension that, left unaddressed, builds tension, pain and even disease in the body. Finding your voice includes acknowledging what is really true for you, whether anyone else can hear it or not. Ask yourself: “If I were being honest with myself, what is my point of view about the situation?” “What choices do I have that I haven’t considered?” “What can I do for my body to create more clarity and ease for me?”
Your voice is crucial to the expansion of every part of your life – from business projects and professional connections to your personal wellbeing and relationships. Challenge your limits, be curious and questioning, don’t underestimate your value, and your voice will find its way.