The Courage to Speak Out

SpeakOut 2

Speaking out is not an easy proposition. It requires more courage than we are normally asked to demonstrate on a day to day basis. Yet, when we do not speak out, especially for those who have little or no voice, we are not only doing a disservice to them but to ourselves as well. Granted it takes less courage to cop out, but by not speaking out we suffer from knowing we could have perhaps made a difference in someone’s life had we done so. This suffering often feels like anxiety, stress, and a loss of self-esteem. In other words, we often feel worse than if we had spoken up in the first place.

According to Jane Shure, psychotherapist and leadership coach, copping out is “when we avoid doing something because we’re scared of the consequences — retaliation, losing position, or in some other way of becoming as a result of our speaking up.” More often than not, however, the fear of retaliation is more painful than an actual resulting retaliation.

People want to be liked and accepted, but at what price? The important thing is to make sure that we like ourselves first—that we respect who we are and the values we live by. This takes courage, but in that courage to speak out we find out who we truly are and what we are made of. And not only do we discover this, but others do too.

Thus, we must continue to encourage each other to speak out and to protect those who do. This is the only we can ensure the maintenance and further development of our culture’s values. Let’s make the world a better place by speaking our truth and supporting others who do as well.

Speak Up!

Speak UpHow many times of you been in this situation where you wanted to say something, to speak up, to make your opinion known, yet for one reason or 100 more you kept quiet? I think each of us has had at least one of those experiences, and they are not fun. However, from cultural theoreticians to stand up comics this phenomenon is commented on time and time again. One of my favorite quotes by Jerry Seinfeld is: “most people would rather be in the box, than give the eulogy.”

So why is it so difficult to speak the truth of who we are in a public arena? Several things come to mind. One reason could be that a person feels shy, another could be the person is cognitively challenged. More often than not however, it is my opinion that it has something to do with shame and self value.

Margie Warrell in her article: Is it past time you engaged in a “Courageous Conversation?” states that “difficult conversations take skill, strategy and a sincere desire to do good….  Your ability to speak up about issues that weigh you down is crucial to your success at work and in life.”  She then offers these ten suggestions to boost your courage and skill at speaking the truth of who you are and how your feel:

  1. Check your ego, set your intention.
  2. Mean what you say.
  3. Set the emotional tone.
  4. Be vigilant of Victims and Villains.
  5. Facts first.
  6. Discuss the “Undiscussable”
  7. Don’t stoop.
  8. Counter defensiveness with humility.
  9. Be clear in your requests and commitments.
  10. Stay future focused.

Speak UpAccording to Ms. Warrall, the kinds of conversations that require honesty and deep listening (courageous conversations) are what ultimately lead to strong relationships at work, at home and among friends and family.

This is the first post of several on the topic speaking up. Please let me know what you think.

Happy Birthday Lady Day

Billie Holiday

“You can’t copy anybody & end with anything. If you copy, you’re working without any real feeling.”  Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday

Perhaps no other jazz singer in the history of American music expressed the very depths of her emotions so completely than Lady Day, otherwise known as Billie Holiday. She was a brilliant musician; her improvisation skills were unique to her and to her life’s story. Most importantly, however, was her ability to convey the pain of her broken heart and soul in such a way that people were somehow made cleaner by her purging vocalizations. I don’t think a person has to have a tragic life to feel or express pain, but I do believe that an expressive vocalist needs to somehow tap into their feelings with daring and fierceness. This is what Billie Holiday was able to accomplish and why over 50 years since her death we still are moved by her vocal stylizations and the bold interpretations of her heart.