Updated: Apr 5, 2021
What causes us to be silent or speak? From my experience, if I was silent, it is because I'm still collecting information or unsure how to respond. I'm usually observing who is in the audience and thinking how I should speak, what is the message that I'm trying to relay or share. For many, it depends on how safe it is for them to speak up. If there is conflict or potential retaliation, some people will stay silent. It is about the repercussions.
Some people are more brave and confident to speak up. Many times, these people who are very vocal have experience in communicating their intentions more frequently. In this instances, people who are not savvy with speaking up more may feel left out or overshadowed by people who speak a lot more often. We miss out on the ideas of those who are unable to speak for themselves.
During the times that I felt I couldn't speak, it usually feels very uncomfortable, like a knot inside my stomach and the throat feels tight. It also feels awkward and you feel like you are unimportant. It's not a good feeling. Still, don't give up. Practice speaking your mind when you need to the most. Your voice does matter. If you step up to this important action, others become more brave to speak up as well. More people will be motivated to share their stories, the challenges and the lessons in life. It isn't easy to step up to the conflict that is in front of you. It isn't easy to stand up when other seem to leave you by yourself to fight for your own existence. With perseverance, people start to notice your bravery and they start to see what your positive intentions are. It is a life investment to dedicate yourself to being true with yourself.
In those moments where you feel like you are the only one, try it anyway. You will gain experience in speaking up for important issues and topics that need resolutions. There are plenty of world problems out there. If each of us took care of resolving issues and collectively we collaborate in solving these problems, then we would find a more peaceful and more prosperous life for all and not just for a few privileged people. If you are not sure how to speak up, find a tribe, a group of people who have similar interests that you have. Find organizations that are interested in supporting the causes that you have. As an individual, try to find some mentors who you would like to receive guidance and support. Your own peers are great resources, if you are able to share with them your specific needs and if they are willing to be your partners and teammates in your journey professionally or even personally.
Like I stated in the beginning I tend to want to know what I am speaking about rather than just making up things. Some ways to do that is by researching through reading books, articles and more. It is not enough to read social media or news resources. Checking the sources of your data is also important while considering the different perspectives and point of views. Seeing the bigger picture besides the details is important. We all have biases that we need to understand well through examination and through accountability. Don't expect to get things always right the first time. Making mistakes is part of the growth process. We need to be kind to ourselves and realize that improvements even if small are all important.
Be tactful when you do speak up. Know your audience and be prepared to respond accordingly to the outcome that you are desiring. People use their influences on others to create an agreement or compromise. It doesn't just happen without efforts to build relationships. Getting to know the people you are trying to communicate to allows you to be understanding in making the appropriate comments, questions or inquiries. Always know that when you speak there are consequences whether good or bad. Listening is important throughout this process. It is difficult to communicate if both sides are not ready to listen and speak in turn. Practice truly makes you more capable of knowing when to be silent and knowing when to speak.