Do you have issues in speaking up your mind? Are you conscious about what you say when you have to speak up?
Have you ever wondered how some people seem to command the stage? Or that they grab the audience attention the moment they walk into a room and start talking?
Have you also seen how some who despite trying so hard, could not seem to stir much interest in others, let alone to engage with others?
Do you ever feel that you are neglected and not heard in your own circle of friends or family?
What if you can engage someone, to be listened to or taken seriously?
You are not alone.
In my younger days, I often felt brushed off even when I had something important to contribute to. Often, I had the impression that what I said didn’t matter, sounded stupid. Or that I ask too many questions. So I chose to keep quiet so that others would assume that I am just easy going.
Over time, this impacted my esteem as I began to doubt my own thoughts and opinions. It doesn’t feel good to be ignored. But it feels worse to be disrespected when others don’t think your voice matter. It became too much to take, so I decided that something has to be done about this, by myself for myself.
As I started taking steps to learn ways to overcome this barrier to speak up, to be more assertive and confident. I became more observant to how I was acting and what I was saying to others. Gradually, I regained the confidence I left in my early days by speaking up and speaking out more despite being rebuffed at times.
There were also times when I didn’t have enough courage to confront my fears as well. And, that was when I would silently beat myself up. But when I did pluck the courage to speak up, I’ve taken a huge step up towards having my voice heard, that my opinions mattered and to be more of who I am.
With time, people will start to pay attention, listen and take my words to being looked upon for advice.
Here are some ways you can consider and review within yourself if you want to feel heard, listened to and to have your words taken with weight.
The Way You Communicate
If you struggle with people paying attention to what you want to put across, you might want to look at how you communicate to others including the clarity of your voice, your tone, the way you talk and your body language.
Do You Always Talk, Follow By Giggles? When we have serious issues or opinions to voice out, we usually will not speak in a joking manner or end with a laugh. It makes you sound nervous and unconfident.
Do you End Your Statements with Question marks? If you have to make a statement, don’t end them with a question. Ending statements with question-like manner will make you sound unsure of what you are saying.
Are you speaking audibly and articulately? Or do you stammer or have lots of pause fillers, like ah, umm or repeat words like, like…? Be clear about what you want to put across and make sure you speak in complete sentences the right way.When you have a statement to make, be clear about what you want to relay, speak the whole sentence without adding words to fill the space, ending only when you have finished your sentence.
Do you get so excited about your topic that your mind works faster than your voice? And others don’t understand what you are trying to say?Slow yourself down when you speak. Pause at the end of sentences so those listening to you can let what you have just said sink in. Speak with a clear voice. Mumble less. Let yourself speak each word with clarity and audibly.How do you act when you speak? Do you fiddle a lot? Do you talk and sway while standing? Make a firm stand and you’ll feel more grounded.
Keeping an open body posture helps; it shows that you have nothing to hide and that you are willing to share.When you shrug while talking, it demonstrates to others that you don’t care about what you are saying. If you don’t care, why should they?When you lean back in a laissez faire manner, it tells others that you are laid back. And this implies that you don’t care much about what others think or say, even if you do. So why would others pay attention to you?Standing with hands on your hips demonstrates that you are over powering or authoritative over others which may put people off and stop listening.Folding your arms may make you look defensive or holding back.
Take note of how you sound and your facial expressions. Resting b*tch face, frowning or having a gesture that looks nonchalant to others, will affect the effectiveness of the message you want to deliver to others.You might also want your trusted family or friends to give you constructive feedback on the impression they get when you speak with them too.
Keep eye contact when you speak. Looking away will not only make the other person feel disconnected but also make it hard for them to understand you as it is distracting for them but don’t stare either.
There’s time for jokes, and time to be serious. When you fool and joke around a lot, you might find that there is a tendency for others to not take you seriously.If you are one who shoots your mouth more often than you think, or if you are inclined to boast or add spices to stories, it will have a backlash as well. Like the boy who cried wolf, it’s intriguing to make our stories sound more interesting or happening but when they don’t add up, it not only decreases your credibility but also others’ respect towards you.You might have realised, seen or known of someone who was not taken seriously because they are always talking too much or they don’t know what they are talking about.
Say want you mean and mean what you say. When you say you’d do it, make sure you do. If you say you’d be there, be present on that day.When you mean what you tell others, it pays a lot to be sincere and truthful in your words. It could be during casual conversations or at formal events. Your relationship will be discounted if there would be times when your actions and words don’t tally.
Cease being a complainer. It turns people off when someone keeps shoving negative opinions or issues without taking actions to clear up the problems. Over time, whenever they want to talk about something, others might tune out and not pay attention to them.Sharing problems, even when you don’t expect help and just want to share, demonstrates negative vibes unnecessarily on others.Instead, try to work on resolving your problems first then tell others after you have done something about it. It shows that you are sharing both your problems and solutions with others so that
(i) they can learn from you, and
(ii) they will also be more interested when there is an ending to your story.
Do you sound too direct, harsh or pushy, or soft or unsure? Be firm and assertive. Practice being assertive, not pushy. If you have ever felt offended, pushed or manipulated into doing or saying something, you will know from that example that it is not being assertive.Being assertive does not mean demanding others to listen and agree with you. It means being able to have your say, to put your point across firmly, to not taking it personally when others disagree, to not allowing others to interject you or cut you off which is disrespectful. If you do face such situations, tell the other person to let you finish first.
If you feel put down in certain circumstances, maintain your stand and repeat your statement. When you repeat your statement, it not only affirms your stand. It also let the others know that you are serious about what you say, instead of being pushed to accept what others opinionated.