How Do I (Effectively) Speak Up About the Election?
For most of my life, I’ve quietly and safely spoken my truth to those I’m closest with, and I’ve allowed the fear of how others will respond hold me back from expressing that truth in a larger way. I’ve been gradually breaking free of that fear over the past decade or so, but on Tuesday night, what was left of that fear instantly, and almost completely dissolved.
I suddenly felt the power of something so much bigger than me take priority, and my fears just couldn’t keep up. I started putting myself out there and speaking up.
This has actually been an overwhelmingly positive experience. I haven’t started any fights, no one has responded to me in a way I couldn’t handle, and I have found that my words have, in many situations, comforted, supported, and inspired others, even when they disagree with me.
Several of my close friends have also been motivated to speak up, but they aren’t sure exactly how. They’ve been asking me, “How do you share your truth in an impactful way? What exactly do you say?”
I won’t tell anyone, including you, what they should or should not do or say. What I can do is offer you my approach, what has worked well for me, in hopes that it provides you the courage and permission from within to speak up for what you believe.
1 – I Connect with My Intention
When I speak up, my intention is never to change the other person’s mind. This can be difficult, especially when we feel so passionate about the issues at hand and our perspectives on them.
When we come from this intention, however, we immediately give our own personal power away to the other party. Whether or not our intention is realized is completely in the other person’s control. If they react the way we want them to, we’ve “won”. If they don’t, we’ve “lost.” And, since we cannot control others, it’s completely out of our hands.
Further, when we come from a space of wanting to change the other person, I believe it is palpable. Without meaning to, we can instantly close the other person off from hearing us, which is the exact opposite of our intention.
Instead, my only intention in speaking up is to share my truth. And I do it for me. It’s not for the person I’m speaking with. This intention allows me to speak up with more honesty and grace, and no matter how the other person responds, I have met my intention. No matter the outcome, I can feel good about myself and what and how I’ve shared.
2 – I Marry Conviction with Compassion
When I speak up, I don’t go in with guns blazing. Many of us, myself included, rightfully and understandably have felt overwhelming emotion in response to this election and how it may affect us and so many others in this country and around the world. And yet, when it comes time to speak my mind about it, I personally choose to harness the power of that emotion.
My experience is that approaching anyone with fury or accusations immediately puts up their every defense. And when that wall is up, they can’t hear a word I’m saying. They can’t hear the pain behind the anger or the love behind the blame, and so they don’t feel compassion for either. And my message is lost on them.
I prefer to give others a chance to feel that compassion. I choose to infuse my conviction with compassion and openness so that I can be heard. And in this way, I have been heard, time and time again. When I have spoken with strength and softness, I’ve often been listened to. And it opens up a vastly more effective conversation.
3 – I Use “I” and “We”
When I speak up, I try to keep the focus on how I feel and what I think. I am doing my best to avoid telling anyone else how they should feel or how they should respond to these events.
I also use “we” quite a bit. This again allows me to take responsibility for my own feelings and actions, and also avoids blame (which also immediately puts up defenses).
For example, in response to the man who made a rather insulting remark about an entire group of people, I responded, “Can each of us take personal responsibility to not make sweeping generalizations about each other?” (“Can each of us…”, not “Can you…”). This opened up a much more effective conversation than I believe blaming him or telling him to stop generalizing would have done.
4 – I Know You’re A Total Inspiration
When you speak up, even if the other party laughs in your face or hurdles slurs at you, you have made a difference.
First, I believe that when you speak your truth from the heart, the other person has heard you, on whatever level they are able to at that time, no matter how they respond. I believe that when we speak with conviction and compassion, our message does stay with them.
Second, and even more importantly, is that when you speak up, others see and hear what you are doing and saying. Sometimes, when I speak up, the person I have addressed doesn’t respond, but those around me do. They express that they feel supported, inspired, or will look at things differently. And what’s more, when you speak up, it can give those around you the strength and permission they were looking for to go out and speak their hearts as well.
Our children, friends, partners, families, colleagues, everyone around us can be strengthened by your visibility in your truth. And most of all, it strengthens you.
To your fabulous life,
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