Don't Give Up Your Own Voice

Don't Give Up Your Own Voice

From Arlene | Posted by - October 18, 2012 at 7:55 pm

One thing you should never give up in life is your own voice. To me, it's the same as signing over your power and prospects to someone else. But often, people aren't even aware they're choosing to do that.

You're just sitting in a meeting, reluctant –or too polite -- to challenge someone else's point of view. Maybe he's speaking with so much conviction and seems so knowledgeable that you're worried you'll look like an idiot if you contradict him. Or maybe you just really, really need the money or the support or the opportunity that's on offer, and you don't want to give offence. Whatever the case, before you know it, if you stay silent, the opportunity to reframe an issue or shape a decision is gone.

For entrepreneurs, there's a particular risk: give up your own voice, and you essentially hand over the keys to your kingdom. Your voice, your personal vision for your business--that's what being an entrepreneur is all about. You are quite literally trying to have your say in the marketplace, and to be heard. If you let someone else do the talking for you – investors who want to control rather than support; naysayers who want to dismiss rather than constructively question – well, what's the point?

You need to trust your own right to speak up, and try to view it as a responsibility to your business. Without some baseline level of self-confidence about the soundness of your business proposition, you can't hope to inspire others to have confidence in it. Or in you. Let me be clear though: by self-confidence I'm not talking about bravado or misplaced arrogance or wearing people down to the point where they'll agree to anything just to get you to shut up. I'm just talking about expressing your vision clearly and clearly believing in it, in which case you won't have to resort to hard-sell tactics. Others will follow you.

Sounds basic, right? But it isn't. I can remember being in meetings where I felt totally voiceless, like other people weren't listening. The problem wasn't them though. It was me: I'd speak up, but hesitantly, because I didn't trust that my point of view had validity. Sometimes my instincts would tell me there was a simple answer nobody else was seeing, but then I'd second guess myself. Surely if a simple answer was available, somebody else –somebody smarter--would've mentioned it? By the time I opened my mouth, a small and uncertain voice would come out, and I had that sinking feeling you get when you know you're not making a point very well. I was so afraid of being judged by others who I assumed had more insight than I did, that I couldn't express my ideas with the clarity and verve they deserved.

Invariably, when I look back at those occasions when I didn't trust my inner voice and failed to speak with confidence as a result, eventually I'd be proven right—only, someone else would get the credit for the idea. Over time, I began to realize that I was right more of the time than I was wrong. That taught me not to assume that everybody else must be smarter, or to automatically give other people's opinions more credence than I give my own.

I think that's one of the most important lessons I've learned as an entrepreneur, and it's a lesson that has stood me in good stead in every aspect of my life.

I was going to end this post by asking whether I had this all wrong and invite you to weigh in. But since I've just spent the last five minutes telling you how important I think it is to trust your own voice, I'm going to assume that I have contributed something worthwhile to this discussion, and go straight to the part where I ask what you think.

Tags: arlene dickinson, dickinson, blog, vision, challenges, conviction, business, marketplace, entrepreneur

Amanda Reynaert
October 22, 2012 at 2:21 pm

This really hits home! WOW.

"That taught me not to assume that everybody else must be smarter, or to automatically give other people’s opinions more credence than I give my own."

I've just come to learn this myself in the last year. I would agree that at this point I do feel it's one of the most important lesson's that I've learned. It came at a high price - but I'm a stronger person, wife and business owner because of it. I'm not yet a mother, but knowing what I know now - it's a very important lesson that I want to pass along to my children. 

I'm jazzed about this site - and can't wait to learn plenty!

Shari Blanchard
October 22, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Knowing when to speak up and when not to, can be quite a skill to learn. Yet like you say, giving up your voice can be like giving away the keys to your kingdom. Good article thanks!

Ralf Chlipalski
October 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I've been told that I was born without a filter but the times I regret most in life are the times I've held back.

Kim Page Gluckie
October 23, 2012 at 11:47 pm

Love the idea of "responsibility" for using your own voice, speaking up, that it's okay. It is our privilege and responsibility to step up for our community we serve too - if we are bold enough to be entrepreneurial we are bold enough to lead with our voices too. 

Also love the idea of pausing for a moment when I can't seem to speak up and use that time to evaluate if what I was going to say was really true and strong... rather than questioning my confidence as I might have. Some very good thinking in here that I will share forward with those who ask me about blogging using their personal voice (of course you do)! Thank you.

Kim Foreman
October 26, 2012 at 4:53 pm

As someone who spends their time helping people find THEIR voice, this really struck a chord with me. Definitely more of a problem for women and we're taught from such an early age to "behave" and "do as we're told".

Zulubear ~ Annette Young
October 27, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Kim Page Gluckie wrote...

"It is our privilege and responsibility to step up for our community ..."

Well now Kim, does that not just simplify the idea that trusting in and relying on  the voice of inner wisdom inspires the business proposition and clearly, then guides it to it's own fruition? 

idunno...Your words bounced off this page and struck a chord in me that just might have returned the keys to the door of my kingdom.

Humbled I am.




November 6, 2012 at 10:02 pm
On a daily basis I have been asking myself do I have psychic abilities as everything I could for see happening was happening! I then realized had I been sticking up for my beliefs and allowing my inner voice to come out I would have not have made so many mistakes. I was always taught listening is power and thought that if I listens enough I was going to learn. The truth is I had already learned so much by listening that I didn't open up and share my visions so that other could listen and learn as well. ; )
Laura-Jean Bernhardson
January 6, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Yes, so true. 

The seemingly simple act of speaking up and taking a stand for your vision is so powerful.  Many people are afraid to speak up because they don't have the power of their own convictions, because they haven't got their vision clear in their own mind yet. 

Leadership has been a huge area for me over the past couple years, and being able to stand for my vision with confidence and speak up has been huge in moving the business forward and persuading others of its value. 

What has been key in this is crafting a clear plan and embracing my role as the story teller of my vision.  I started to see how speaking of what we do, again and again, clarified it in my mind and allowed me to see it for what it was.  After a day of interviewing new job candidates, I felt inspired and powerful, and realized it came from telling "the story" of the business again and again that day.  I have since taken every opportunity to speak about my passion, come clearer and hone the story, and I see that by speaking, I get clearer and find my voice. 

By speaking, even if you're not sure what to say, you find the words.  It's as simple as that.  By not speaking, you disappear.  It's your choice.

Imran Selimkhanov
March 17, 2013 at 2:44 am

Agreed, making yourself heard in any work place is paramount, it gets you playing with the big boys & girls. Often times I find that even company veteran employees can be intimidated by vocal & dominating individuals during meetings, the key is to seize a moment and put your views forward and there are many strategies of doing so.

More often than not, if you have something to say that hasn't been already, someone else most likely has the same thought in mind, so taking leadership in speaking up will not only help you, but others like you in the work environment.

Now, when it comes to you business...It's your idea and you baby, so deviating and being side railed by negative or uncertain investors or partners is you responsibility to control and put a plug on in case your voice is starting to faint. 

Just my 2 cents, can go on and on regarding this topic.

March 19, 2013 at 1:20 am

I just want to reach out and thank you both for your comments. I have taken a few new steps with my voice and seem to be taking a stand more than ever ;) it is because of this site i have found some inner me... I love what i do and my work is speaking for itself finally.... with a little nudge from me standing up and believing thank you to Laura Jean and Imran

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