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Speak up! Finding Your Assertive Voice

In the bustling landscape of professional environments, the ability to speak up assertively is a vital skill for women aiming to make their mark. Yet, for many, finding their voice amidst the cacophony of opinions, navigating put-downs about being outspoken or bossy, and overcoming the challenge of being drowned out by louder voices can be daunting. If you’ve ever experienced the frustration of feeling unheard or sidelined in meetings or presentations, you’re not alone. Many women do. There are strategies to help you reclaim your voice and speak up assertively.

Picture this: You’re in a meeting, eager to share your ideas and contribute to the discussion. But each time you try to speak up, you’re interrupted, spoken over, or dismissed before you can finish your point. Your frustration mounts as you watch your male counterparts effortlessly command the room, their voices carrying weight and authority. They even repeat what you already said and get praised for “their” contributions. You wonder, “Will I ever be heard? Does my opinion even matter?

Sound familiar?

If this strikes a chord with you, you’re not alone. Many professional women grapple with similar challenges in male-dominated or competitive work environments. The fear of being labelled as “bossy” or “too aggressive” often silences our voices and stifles our contributions and impact, perpetuating a cycle of self-doubt and disempowerment.

Finding Your Assertive Voice:

1) Know Your Worth: Remember that your opinions, insights and experiences are valuable and needed. Believe in yourself and the value you bring to the table. Cultivate self-confidence and trust in your abilities.

2) Prepare and Practice: Before speaking up in meetings or discussions, take time to prepare your thoughts and key points. Practice articulating your ideas concisely and confidently. Rehearse speaking up assertively in front of a mirror or with a trusted colleague or mentor – they can even “overact” the person you need to convince or who you find most challenging.

3) Pick Your Moments: Timing is key when speaking up assertively. Look for opportunities to contribute when the conversation aligns with your expertise or when you have valuable insights to share. Be strategic about when and how you assert yourself and use your body posture and gestures to emphasise your point.

4) Use Assertive Communication: Assertive communication involves expressing your thoughts, opinions, and needs in a clear, direct, and respectful manner. Use “I” statements to convey your perspective and avoid language that sounds apologetic or hesitant. Stop saying using phrases like “I’m sorry……” and “Does that make sense?”

5) Stand Your Ground: If you’re interrupted or spoken over, politely but firmly assert yourself. Use phrases like “Excuse me, I wasn’t finished.” or I’d like to add to that point.” Don’t allow others to derail or dismiss your contributions.

6) Seek Support: Find allies and advocates who can help amplify your voice and support you in speaking up assertively. Build relationships with colleagues, who value your input and encourage your participation. Socialise your ideas in advance and ask them to bring the conversation back to you if you’re derailed or spoken over and to amplify your voice by paraphrasing and building on your point with additions or praise.

7} Practice Self-Care: Speaking up assertively can be emotionally taxing, especially in challenging environments. Prioritise self-care and set boundaries to protect your well-being. Take breaks when needed and engage in activities that recharge and rejuvenate you.

If you’re ready to take your assertive voice to the next level, drop us a message. Together, let’s empower you to find your voice and speak up with confidence and conviction. We can provide you with personalised support and guidance in developing your assertive voice, through our one-on-one coaching. Sarae and Jen are experienced coaches who provide tailored guidance and practical strategies to help you experiment, refine and master the art of assertive communication.

In a world where women’s voices are often sidelined or silenced, speaking up assertively is an act of empowerment and self-advocacy. By cultivating self-confidence, preparing effectively, and using assertive communication techniques, professional women can reclaim their voices and make meaningful contributions in any setting. Remember, your voice matters and your perspective is invaluable. So, speak up, be heard, and let your assertive voice resonate loud and clear.