Learning to Speak Your Truth

Reviewed Oct 5, 2017

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Summary

  • Practice can build this skill—start small.
  • Prepare—plan what to say.
  • Don’t give up on being diplomatic and kind.

There’s a lot to be said for being diplomatic and tactful. The world is already filled with blowhards and bullies. But there’s also such a thing as being too nice.

Often the inability to speak your true feelings is a sign of people pleasing run amok, even when you don’t consciously care about pleasing certain people. In these situations, you’re most likely reacting to deep-seated fears—fears of confrontation, disapproval, and rejection. We all need to learn that gaining our own self-approval ultimately means more than gaining the approval of others.

Speak up—for self-esteem, self-respect

When you say “yes,” when you mean “no,” or “it’s OK,” when it’s not OK, you deny your true self and present a false front. Speaking out empowers you. It’s your vehicle for expression—it says, “I’m here and I count.” Speaking up honestly defines you and gives you self-respect and self-esteem; swallowing your opinions and words does the opposite.

Writers call the ability to speak honestly in your own personal, one-of-a-kind way “finding your voice.” To get to this authentic self, you have to learn to be yourself, and the first step, according to best-selling author and psychologist Daphne Rose Kingma, is learning to speak out.

Learning to speak your truth

For some, speaking out comes naturally; for others, it’s a learned skill. Don’t put yourself down if this is something you need to work on. The tendency to swallow your true feelings and opinions most likely started in childhood and may even be a trait you were born with.

Figure out what you need to do to build your resolve to speak honestly in a variety of situations, and start doing it regularly until the process gets less frightening and becomes second nature.

First, just notice it

Notice when the fear of speaking up comes upon you. Who are you with? Where are you? How do you feel?

Sometimes we’re stuck in an automatic habit. Watch your tendency to automatically agree with everyone and everything. Don’t nod your head if you don’t agree—just holding still might be an initial victory.

Start small and practice

Most skills can be learned and bettered through practice and repetition. It’s a bit like “stress inoculation,” in which you expose yourself to those things you fear so you can build up a tolerance.

Plan to speak up at least once a day and look for opportunities to do so. Make it a game or a challenge. This doesn’t mean learning to be rude, obnoxious, or confrontational all the time. Speaking honestly means asserting your basic needs, likes and rights in a polite fashion when the situation warrants it.

For example, if you’re seated at a table you don’t like at a restaurant, instead of accepting the bad table, take this as an opportunity to practice asserting yourself and say, “I’d prefer the table by the window.”

Keep in mind:

  • With practice, speaking up will get easier, and in time, you’ll build confidence.
  • Start even though the first few times your voice might shake.
  • Know that you’ll get better at it.
  • If your boss or spouse is the difficult person, start practicing in situations where there’s less at stake.
  • If speaking out doesn’t work as you’d hoped, figure out how you can improve, and try again.

Be prepared

We can’t always plan when and how we’re going to need to express ourselves, but there are plenty of situations for which you can prepare—a business or family meeting, for example. Plan what you’re going to say and psych yourself up for saying it. For bigger issues—speaking up honestly to a significant other, co-worker, or boss—write down what you want to say and refine it so when the time comes, you have points to fall back on and a plan on how to present your issues politely, but assuredly.

Difficult people and situations

Mentally prepare for difficult situations and learn to toughen your resolve. Remember, you can’t control the actions or words of other people; you can only control yourself. So choose to speak calmly and respectfully.

If you speak up politely and a heated confrontation results, or if someone blindsides you with a sudden confrontation and you don’t want to give in but aren’t prepared for a highly charged emotional exchange, you can always say that you want to discuss the subject further, but not right here and right now. Suggest meeting later in a neutral territory. You are not giving in—you’re just not letting the more aggressive person set the agenda.

If you already have a pattern of verbal submission with someone, it will take work to break the habit, along with some initial discomfort, but it can be done. Someone who is used to your silence and agreement will likely bristle the first few times you speak your piece. In most cases, they’ll just have to get over it and get used to the new you. Best advice—don’t set that pattern in future relationships. Speak your true feelings from the start.

If the person you need to assert yourself with is a boss or someone who has “power” over you because of financial or family concerns, or even fear of reprisal, then get professional help on how to become more proactive in asserting your rights. Sometimes speaking out will cost you a relationship, but such relationships are usually toxic anyway, and you’re better off without them.

Find role models

Identify people whose speaking-out skills you admire. Study what they do and how they speak out honestly and respectfully. Take notes and model your moves after theirs. Talk to them if possible and get their advice.

Do you always need to speak out?

Use your new powers of assertiveness wisely—to protect and project yourself, not to destroy or annoy others. You don’t have to speak out about every little thought or disagreement you have or call out people constantly. People who do this all the time for no good reason quickly become tedious.

We still need to assess when, where, and why it’s appropriate to speak up. We don’t have to give up being diplomatic and kind. It may take a lot of practice, but we can figure out how to be honest and tactful at the same time. 

By Amy Fries

Summary

  • Practice can build this skill—start small.
  • Prepare—plan what to say.
  • Don’t give up on being diplomatic and kind.

There’s a lot to be said for being diplomatic and tactful. The world is already filled with blowhards and bullies. But there’s also such a thing as being too nice.

Often the inability to speak your true feelings is a sign of people pleasing run amok, even when you don’t consciously care about pleasing certain people. In these situations, you’re most likely reacting to deep-seated fears—fears of confrontation, disapproval, and rejection. We all need to learn that gaining our own self-approval ultimately means more than gaining the approval of others.

Speak up—for self-esteem, self-respect

When you say “yes,” when you mean “no,” or “it’s OK,” when it’s not OK, you deny your true self and present a false front. Speaking out empowers you. It’s your vehicle for expression—it says, “I’m here and I count.” Speaking up honestly defines you and gives you self-respect and self-esteem; swallowing your opinions and words does the opposite.

Writers call the ability to speak honestly in your own personal, one-of-a-kind way “finding your voice.” To get to this authentic self, you have to learn to be yourself, and the first step, according to best-selling author and psychologist Daphne Rose Kingma, is learning to speak out.

Learning to speak your truth

For some, speaking out comes naturally; for others, it’s a learned skill. Don’t put yourself down if this is something you need to work on. The tendency to swallow your true feelings and opinions most likely started in childhood and may even be a trait you were born with.

Figure out what you need to do to build your resolve to speak honestly in a variety of situations, and start doing it regularly until the process gets less frightening and becomes second nature.

First, just notice it

Notice when the fear of speaking up comes upon you. Who are you with? Where are you? How do you feel?

Sometimes we’re stuck in an automatic habit. Watch your tendency to automatically agree with everyone and everything. Don’t nod your head if you don’t agree—just holding still might be an initial victory.

Start small and practice

Most skills can be learned and bettered through practice and repetition. It’s a bit like “stress inoculation,” in which you expose yourself to those things you fear so you can build up a tolerance.

Plan to speak up at least once a day and look for opportunities to do so. Make it a game or a challenge. This doesn’t mean learning to be rude, obnoxious, or confrontational all the time. Speaking honestly means asserting your basic needs, likes and rights in a polite fashion when the situation warrants it.

For example, if you’re seated at a table you don’t like at a restaurant, instead of accepting the bad table, take this as an opportunity to practice asserting yourself and say, “I’d prefer the table by the window.”

Keep in mind:

  • With practice, speaking up will get easier, and in time, you’ll build confidence.
  • Start even though the first few times your voice might shake.
  • Know that you’ll get better at it.
  • If your boss or spouse is the difficult person, start practicing in situations where there’s less at stake.
  • If speaking out doesn’t work as you’d hoped, figure out how you can improve, and try again.

Be prepared

We can’t always plan when and how we’re going to need to express ourselves, but there are plenty of situations for which you can prepare—a business or family meeting, for example. Plan what you’re going to say and psych yourself up for saying it. For bigger issues—speaking up honestly to a significant other, co-worker, or boss—write down what you want to say and refine it so when the time comes, you have points to fall back on and a plan on how to present your issues politely, but assuredly.

Difficult people and situations

Mentally prepare for difficult situations and learn to toughen your resolve. Remember, you can’t control the actions or words of other people; you can only control yourself. So choose to speak calmly and respectfully.

If you speak up politely and a heated confrontation results, or if someone blindsides you with a sudden confrontation and you don’t want to give in but aren’t prepared for a highly charged emotional exchange, you can always say that you want to discuss the subject further, but not right here and right now. Suggest meeting later in a neutral territory. You are not giving in—you’re just not letting the more aggressive person set the agenda.

If you already have a pattern of verbal submission with someone, it will take work to break the habit, along with some initial discomfort, but it can be done. Someone who is used to your silence and agreement will likely bristle the first few times you speak your piece. In most cases, they’ll just have to get over it and get used to the new you. Best advice—don’t set that pattern in future relationships. Speak your true feelings from the start.

If the person you need to assert yourself with is a boss or someone who has “power” over you because of financial or family concerns, or even fear of reprisal, then get professional help on how to become more proactive in asserting your rights. Sometimes speaking out will cost you a relationship, but such relationships are usually toxic anyway, and you’re better off without them.

Find role models

Identify people whose speaking-out skills you admire. Study what they do and how they speak out honestly and respectfully. Take notes and model your moves after theirs. Talk to them if possible and get their advice.

Do you always need to speak out?

Use your new powers of assertiveness wisely—to protect and project yourself, not to destroy or annoy others. You don’t have to speak out about every little thought or disagreement you have or call out people constantly. People who do this all the time for no good reason quickly become tedious.

We still need to assess when, where, and why it’s appropriate to speak up. We don’t have to give up being diplomatic and kind. It may take a lot of practice, but we can figure out how to be honest and tactful at the same time. 

By Amy Fries

Summary

  • Practice can build this skill—start small.
  • Prepare—plan what to say.
  • Don’t give up on being diplomatic and kind.

There’s a lot to be said for being diplomatic and tactful. The world is already filled with blowhards and bullies. But there’s also such a thing as being too nice.

Often the inability to speak your true feelings is a sign of people pleasing run amok, even when you don’t consciously care about pleasing certain people. In these situations, you’re most likely reacting to deep-seated fears—fears of confrontation, disapproval, and rejection. We all need to learn that gaining our own self-approval ultimately means more than gaining the approval of others.

Speak up—for self-esteem, self-respect

When you say “yes,” when you mean “no,” or “it’s OK,” when it’s not OK, you deny your true self and present a false front. Speaking out empowers you. It’s your vehicle for expression—it says, “I’m here and I count.” Speaking up honestly defines you and gives you self-respect and self-esteem; swallowing your opinions and words does the opposite.

Writers call the ability to speak honestly in your own personal, one-of-a-kind way “finding your voice.” To get to this authentic self, you have to learn to be yourself, and the first step, according to best-selling author and psychologist Daphne Rose Kingma, is learning to speak out.

Learning to speak your truth

For some, speaking out comes naturally; for others, it’s a learned skill. Don’t put yourself down if this is something you need to work on. The tendency to swallow your true feelings and opinions most likely started in childhood and may even be a trait you were born with.

Figure out what you need to do to build your resolve to speak honestly in a variety of situations, and start doing it regularly until the process gets less frightening and becomes second nature.

First, just notice it

Notice when the fear of speaking up comes upon you. Who are you with? Where are you? How do you feel?

Sometimes we’re stuck in an automatic habit. Watch your tendency to automatically agree with everyone and everything. Don’t nod your head if you don’t agree—just holding still might be an initial victory.

Start small and practice

Most skills can be learned and bettered through practice and repetition. It’s a bit like “stress inoculation,” in which you expose yourself to those things you fear so you can build up a tolerance.

Plan to speak up at least once a day and look for opportunities to do so. Make it a game or a challenge. This doesn’t mean learning to be rude, obnoxious, or confrontational all the time. Speaking honestly means asserting your basic needs, likes and rights in a polite fashion when the situation warrants it.

For example, if you’re seated at a table you don’t like at a restaurant, instead of accepting the bad table, take this as an opportunity to practice asserting yourself and say, “I’d prefer the table by the window.”

Keep in mind:

  • With practice, speaking up will get easier, and in time, you’ll build confidence.
  • Start even though the first few times your voice might shake.
  • Know that you’ll get better at it.
  • If your boss or spouse is the difficult person, start practicing in situations where there’s less at stake.
  • If speaking out doesn’t work as you’d hoped, figure out how you can improve, and try again.

Be prepared

We can’t always plan when and how we’re going to need to express ourselves, but there are plenty of situations for which you can prepare—a business or family meeting, for example. Plan what you’re going to say and psych yourself up for saying it. For bigger issues—speaking up honestly to a significant other, co-worker, or boss—write down what you want to say and refine it so when the time comes, you have points to fall back on and a plan on how to present your issues politely, but assuredly.

Difficult people and situations

Mentally prepare for difficult situations and learn to toughen your resolve. Remember, you can’t control the actions or words of other people; you can only control yourself. So choose to speak calmly and respectfully.

If you speak up politely and a heated confrontation results, or if someone blindsides you with a sudden confrontation and you don’t want to give in but aren’t prepared for a highly charged emotional exchange, you can always say that you want to discuss the subject further, but not right here and right now. Suggest meeting later in a neutral territory. You are not giving in—you’re just not letting the more aggressive person set the agenda.

If you already have a pattern of verbal submission with someone, it will take work to break the habit, along with some initial discomfort, but it can be done. Someone who is used to your silence and agreement will likely bristle the first few times you speak your piece. In most cases, they’ll just have to get over it and get used to the new you. Best advice—don’t set that pattern in future relationships. Speak your true feelings from the start.

If the person you need to assert yourself with is a boss or someone who has “power” over you because of financial or family concerns, or even fear of reprisal, then get professional help on how to become more proactive in asserting your rights. Sometimes speaking out will cost you a relationship, but such relationships are usually toxic anyway, and you’re better off without them.

Find role models

Identify people whose speaking-out skills you admire. Study what they do and how they speak out honestly and respectfully. Take notes and model your moves after theirs. Talk to them if possible and get their advice.

Do you always need to speak out?

Use your new powers of assertiveness wisely—to protect and project yourself, not to destroy or annoy others. You don’t have to speak out about every little thought or disagreement you have or call out people constantly. People who do this all the time for no good reason quickly become tedious.

We still need to assess when, where, and why it’s appropriate to speak up. We don’t have to give up being diplomatic and kind. It may take a lot of practice, but we can figure out how to be honest and tactful at the same time. 

By Amy Fries

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as behavioral health care or management advice. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have questions related to workplace issues, please consider contacting your human resources department. ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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