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Let Your Voice Be Heard

Picture this: You are in class or a meeting at work. There is an engaging conversation going on around you. Others are pitching ideas, giving their opinion and answering questions. You have something to say, yet you are completely silent. You know the answer and have valuable input, but are too nervous to raise your hand in fear of what others might think. You are not letting yourself be heard. Sound familiar?

Yeah, we’ve all been there. Doubting your knowledge and ideas can be common among females. There is a fear that comes with the freedom to speak your mind. Do you start your sentences or questions with, “This may sound silly but…” or “Um, I don’t know if this is right but…”? These are all personal disclaimers that communicate you doubt yourself when, internally, you are surely confident in your statement. These disclaimers don’t only happen verbally but in written form as well. Research shows females tend to use the word “just” in written communication with both peers and those seen as authority figures. We might say, “I just wanted to check in…” or “I was just wondering…” The use of that one word lessens the importance of our statement.

Females often let others’ opinions overshadow their own, and we question why others don’t take us seriously. We get frustrated when men get the raises or are called upon more often. How can we change this? Be courageous and speak up. Don’t discredit yourself by using a disclaimer to open your statement. Use an assertive tone of voice when speaking.

Through the years, women have lived by the motto “kill them with kindness” when it should be “kill them with competence.” It is time to put self-doubt behind us. Sit front and center, raise your hand, speak up, let your presence be known. Be your own champion.