Why saying what you need to say is so hard, and how you can overcome fears and gain the skills you need to share your perspectives confidently.
If you’re afraid to speak your mind and let your perspective be known, you’re not alone. In this blog, we cover why this is so hard and how you can overcome your fears and gain the skills you need to say what you need to say confidently.
Civil discourse helps us understand a specific topic through candid and productive conversations without creating animosity among the people involved in the discussion.
To reap the benefits of engaging in civil discourse, we must make our perspectives understood. But it’s not always easy to say what you need to say.
Why Is It So Hard to Make Our Perspective Known in a Civil Discussion?
It’s scary to put ourselves on the line and speak up. But if we hold our tongues, we won’t be able to express our opinions and get our point across.
To solve any challenge, we must understand the root cause. Here’s why we may be holding ourselves back from saying what we need to say:
We may fear that we’re getting our facts wrong, which could end up hurting our reputation and credibility. After all, nobody likes to be called out for being wrong and get embarrassed in front of others.
We may be afraid that we’re not good enough. As a result, we don’t think that others will value our opinions, and we’re reluctant to put ourselves out there by sharing our thoughts and perspectives.
We’re worried that others will attack our values and beliefs. This fear of vulnerability makes many people hold themselves back from saying what they believe so they don’t risk getting criticized or judged by others.
We could be worried that other people don’t like what we have to say. Or we're afraid that the conversation may end up hurting our relationships. Maybe we fear that we're not going to get the consensus we want or the answer we expect to hear. We may even be afraid that our world would fall apart if we’re told what we believe all along is wrong.
Besides fears, we may not know how to communicate our opinions effectively to get the point across without creating a negative impression or reaction. We could be putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves to say what others want to hear if we’re not aware of how our message is received.
These fears and concerns can stop us from speaking up and making our perspectives known—making it almost impossible to have productive civil discourse.
How to Speak Up and Make Your Perspective Known
You must first overcome your fears and recognize that in productive civil discourse, a different opinion isn't an attack on who you are or your personal values. Then, gain the skills to communicate effectively.
Check the facts and get knowledgeable about the topic at hand, which will help you speak up with confidence and conviction.
Exercise critical thinking, then use data and information, not opinions or emotions, to support your perspectives.
Consider other people’s perspectives on the issue and be prepared to address their points of view.
Identify the purpose of the discussion, set common goals for all sides, maintain mutual respect and hold positive expectations.
Detach your self-worth from what others think about your ideas and separate facts from personal opinions or emotions.
Be honest about your perspective and communicate it neutrally without taking on an aggressive or defensive stance.
Make it clear that you value the personal relationships you have with those you're having a discussion with and you don't want the differences in opinions to create animosity.
Know your audience so you can avoid communicating ideas in a way that could be misunderstood or misinterpreted.
Find common ground and use analogies that resonate with your audience to help them understand your perspective.
Present your perspective in a positive light by emphasizing how your idea helps accomplish a mutual goal.
Acknowledge others’ perspectives even if you don't agree with their points of view.
Listen! If you don't take the time to understand others' perspectives, how can you expect them to be receptive to yours?
Don’t be afraid to be wrong—being open about what you think requires the courage to admit that sometimes you may be wrong. It’s all part of the process!
Besides developing the courage to speak up, we must hone our communication skills to explain our points of view in ways that others will understand. As such, you must gain the ability to see the world through the lens of others by broadening your worldview and understanding where your audience is coming from.
You can do so by reading anonymous narratives written by people from different walks of life. The insights you gain can help you present your point of view in a way that resonates with your audience and find common ground to build a constructive discussion.
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