You have a voice; how you use it decides if you will lose it. Do you speak up…too much, or not enough? Our decisions in every moment of when we use our voice, how we use our voice, or if we use our voice ultimately decide if we will be heard.
It is essential to know when to stay silent as essential as knowing when to speak. If you are always talking, chances are no one is listening. If you are always quiet, the perception is that you have nothing to say. When you control your voice and its output, you control the narrative.
Think about it; those talking all the time are the ones we drown out. They are the Charlie Brown teachers in the rooms…
…that we stop listening to because they are ALWAYS talking.
Then there are those in the room that say nothing and leave us wondering why they are in the room, to begin with.
You want to be the one in the room that everyone stops what they are doing and listens to. You want to be the one that gets the listener’s attention because they know when you have something to say, it is worth listening to; you want to be that voice, meaningful and with intention.
How to use your voice is a skill that takes practice and self-reflection. It takes time in front of different audiences where you can test out your voice and witness, usually in real-time, the reaction of your voice on the audience. Are you just restating someone else’s good idea? Are you criticizing? Are you adding value with your voice or merely piling on? What is the audience’s reaction? What is the read on the room after you speak?
To start building your voice skills, you have to have the patience to stop and think before you talk. Much like the process of mindfulness in thought control requires you to stop when a thought comes to mind to consider its worth and then choose to let it go or react to it. Using your voice requires a similar cadence. Before responding to what you hear, you must first stop and decide if you should respond or stay silent and, if worth speaking up, what your message will be to create value.
Once you have practiced when to use your voice, the next step in the process is how to use your voice. How we use our voices determines if our voices will be heard again in the future. Will you be invited back to the conversation? Let’s explore a few examples:
Are you a confirmer? Only speaking up to confirm someone else’s point-of-view?
- There is undoubtedly a place for this voice in helping to gain consensus on another person’s point-of-view; however, if challenged to stand on that POV for yourself, would you? Or are you only in agreement for the sake of wanting to fit in or find comfort in the group? Use caution in this voice, as your integrity will be challenged.
Are you a statement-maker? Are you always making a “drop-the-mic” statement?
- There are times that this voice is relevant and can be impactful if used sparsely. If you are always trying to make a statement, your voice can become overpowering and irrelevant. Powerful messages have a place and time; choose each carefully.
Are you “quoter”? Do you use quotes to add relevance to your voice or message?
- The benefit of a famous quote is that it creates recognition with the audience as it is a place of familiarity that can immediately connect the speaker with the audience. For this to be fully realized, the “quote” must be relevant to the message being delivered.
- The detriment in quoting without the subsequent relevance is that you require the audience to do the work to connect the dots. Quotes used back-to-back lack integrity and tend to lack creativity in finding your voice by using others in vain.
- “Proceed with Caution” – Eartha Kitt (ha!)
In concluding, it is worth noting that every conversation is not that serious, complex, or dramatic; however, practicing in all circumstances will strengthen your voice and your point of view. Your voice is your gift. Use it with discretion and revel in the places where your silence is the loudest voice in the room.
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt. — ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Life as I live it – L.