It’s not that big of a deal.
It’s not worth saying anything.
What’ll they think of me if I say something?
These are the thoughts that would run through my head when I had something hard to say. It might’ve been something small, like telling a client I’d rather not go out for sushi (remember the days when we could go out to eat!). Or something bigger, like when a colleague wasn’t listening to me and I felt disrespected.
Rather than clearly state my needs or opinion, these thoughts would take over. Just say you aren’t hungry if you don’t like what’s on the menu. It’s not worth offering an idea when everyone else has already agreed with this plan. He already seems to not like me… what’ll he think if I make a fuss?
So I didn’t say anything. The impact? Frustration and resentment. And lots of time spent thinking about all the things I’d say… if only I had the courage. Can you relate?
Where’s Your Courage?
Courage is one of the essentials for BALANCED conversations—where you balance what you want and need with what the other person wants and needs. Some people have no problem finding the courage to say what’s on their mind. They don’t hesitate to share ideas or say something when they disagree. For others, myself included, it requires a lot of effort.
If you find you don’t speak up as often as you’d like, you’re not alone! It’s one of the most common issues I see with my coaching clients: wanting to figure out how to have the conversation they’ve been avoiding, how to stand up for themself when they’re feeling mistreated, how to speak up when they have differing ideas… the list goes on.
If these are important things that need to be said, then why is it so difficult to say them?
It’s because having courage is hard for some of us. The courage is always there. It’s just not always easy to access.
Accessing Your Courage
You always have choices and control over what you say or don’t say. Do you give those choices or that control away? Do you believe you can’t say something because of what someone might think? Do you stay quiet because you don’t believe your opinion is worthwhile or your need is important?
For a long time, I didn’t consider the choices I had. I focused more on how to make others happy. My mistake? I saw it as an either/or situation. It was a choice between my needs or someone else’s needs. What I didn’t realize is that it wasn’t black and white. When I finally focused on finding the win-win, speaking my mind wasn’t as hard.
In fact, speaking up was often anticlimactic. I remember the time I told a friend I really didn’t want to see a horror movie. I was expecting a big debacle. Her response was simply, “OK!” That was a huge accomplishment from 1991 when I didn’t have the courage to say no to seeing The Silence of the Lambs with a friend. I STILL have nightmares about Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
If you need to work on increasing your courage, it’s going to take practice. The first few times might feel uncomfortable, but I guarantee it gets easier! Here’s your Thoughtfully Fit weekly workout challenge.
The next time you notice yourself holding back on something you’d like to say, engage your core:
Pause. Take a breath and acknowledge those thoughts telling you to stay quiet. Remind yourself those voices are not necessarily true.
Then Think. What’s important here? What’s getting in the way of finding the courage to say what I want to say? What’s a small step I could take to speak up?
And finally, Act. This might be the hardest step but, you can do it! Say what you want to say. The more you do, the easier it’ll get.
Start Where You Are
If this sounds like a challenge, consider starting with trusted friends and colleagues first. Tell them that as you practice they might notice you disagreeing more often or sharing more opinions. From there, you can move on to more difficult people. Take the time to practice courage and see what the positive results!
And for those of you who have no problem in the courage department, stay tuned for next week where we’ll explore how to have more compassion.
P.S- Our FREE Thoughtfully Fit Communication Masterclasses are filling up fast. If you want to learn more about adding courage, compassion, and curiosity to your conversations, visit darcyluoma.com/communication to sign up.
Recommendation- A friend recently told me about the podcast, Armchair Expert, and I am hooked! The podcast is hosted by Dax Shepherd (the actor). He talks to his guest in order to learn more about their area of expertise, how they struggle, and how they grow. The conversations are real and Dax has no problem with courage!