February 16, 2016
5 ways to get your voice heard
We’ve all experienced moments when we’ve needed to step up, play big and get our voice heard. Whether it’s to ask for that big promotion, give a presentation to senior management or speak up and share our views in meetings. For some of us, these experiences leave us feeling uncomfortable, overwhelmed and insecure. We may believe that we don’t have anything significant to add, or worry about what others will think of us, and consequently feel that it’s easier to just sit on the side-lines and NOT speak out. In doing this, the result is simple, we are allowing ourselves to fall short and not fulfil our full potential, when in reality we know we have value to add.
So how can we start to change our behaviours, so that we can begin to speak up? Confidence Coach, Natalie Costa shares 5 ways to help you change those limiting beliefs and behaviours!
# 1 Set your mind right
Having the correct mindset is essential if you are serious about stepping up and speaking out.Where we direct our thoughts and what we choose to focus our minds on expands. Your thoughts have the power to either, keep you stuck and stop you from moving forward, or they can inspire you and encourage you to take action. Our limiting beliefs are stories that we have created in our minds. They are what we convey to ourselves when reasoning why we can’t achieve something or why we think it would be best if we stayed quiet. It’s this negative chatter that causes us to stop, not take action and be fearful of speaking out. Our thoughts directly influence our feelings and emotions, which in turn directly influences how we behave. If we are serious about changing our behaviours, we firstly need to shift our mindset and programme our minds to think differently about a situation, , in order to generate a new response, leading to a new result.
The first step in rewriting these stories is to become more aware of what you are thinking. Notice the negative thought and the feeling associated with it. Allow yourself to sit with it for a moment. Now ask yourself some of the following questions:
“Is this thought helping me move toward what I want or away from what I want?”
“What is the impact that this belief is currently having on my life?”
“Is it time to let it go?”
Now ask yourself, “What could I be saying to myself instead – that would help me feel more confident to speak out and share my opinion?These will become our positive statements.
When we start hearing the negative chatter and feeling the emotions that come with it, stop, acknowledge it and then repeat your positive statement instead.
#2 – Take the time to listen
We can easily get stuck in a pattern of worrying and paying attention to negative thoughts. –We are so consumed in thinking about what we are going to say, how others will perceive us, or that we won’t have anything of value to add, that we end up not actively paying attention to what is being said.
A simple tool I use, when I notice myself paying attention to my internal chatter, is to actively take a deep breath and just focus on the sensation of that breath for a moment. This pause helps me to return my attention to what is going on in the room and allows me to focus more attentively. You can’t expect to contribute and speak up if you don’t know what is being said, so start listening and paying attention – leaving your negative chatter at the door.
Another great tactic in helping you to become more comfortable with speaking up is to ask a question. In this way you are not stating your opinion, but merely asking for more information.
#3 – Act as if
If you would like to feel more confident when speaking up, then take the time to picture yourself being poised and confident in that context.
Once you have a clear idea, play a game and ‘act as if’ you are already that confident person, just for the duration of the meeting / interview / presentation.Have fun with this and role-play!
#4: Paint a picture
The pictures we create in our minds with regards to our desires and goals can have a great impact on our success. Being clear on what success looks like to us, will actively start to send messages to the brain about what it is that we want. As an example, visualize yourself speaking confidently, talking openly and sharing your opinions in a meeting. Picture yourself in the situation, acting and feeling confident.
Next, create a 10 second movie clip in your mind of the scenario above.
What is happening? How are you feeling? What are you saying or doing? Really see, think and feel that moment. (tip: the more you tap into the feeling the greater the intensity)
Then, play this 10 second clip 3 times a day, say first thing in the morning, on the train to/ from work and just before going to bed.
What you’re doing is planting the idea of success in your mind. The Reticular Activating System (RAS) within the brain is like a heat-seeking missile and it will then look for ways to support that image to make it a reality. By doing this you are reminding yourself of what you do want.
#5 – Open Up or Mind your ‘Body’ Language
There is a considerable amount of research that demonstrates the influence the body has over the mind. Studies show, that by adapting our body language, through our posture, facial expressions and gestures , we can significantly adapt our mindset for success, giving us that confidence boost for meetings and presentations.
In a study by Dr Amy Cuddy, Social Psychologist, where she explored the concept of power, it showed that ‘powerful’ people adopted a more open body posture and were prone to take up more room and space. Interestingly, the individuals deemed ‘not powerful’ tended to occupy less space (crossing their arms/ hunching over).Her studies show that “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — effects the levels of testosterone and cortisol within the brain, increasing risk taking, pain tolerance, and belief in one’s own leadership abilities.
So a simple tool that I always use, especially before a presentation or meeting is to open my body posture and ensure that I am filling up more space. If you’re feeling brave go as far as clenching your hands behind your head and putting your feet up on the desk; or, for a subtler approach, stand with your feet astride and with your hands on your hips.
So give this a go. Before a meeting or a presentation, spend a couple of minutes standing or sitting in a power pose. The most effective pose of all is the “star-shape” with arms and legs spread out wide; however you may want to save that one for when you have some privacy. (I often find a cubical in the loos to do this one)!
Lastly, smile! This instantly releases endorphins and makes the task you’re about to embark on that little bit lighter – making you appear more open and approachable!
In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.- Tony Robbins
Written by Natalie Costa, Confidence Coach
Natalie is a leading Confidence Coach who works to help women step up and into a greater version of themselves, by developing their confidence and mindset. She encourages them to dream big, follow their passion and have the confidence to make life changing decisions. Her warm, bubbly nature is infectious and her coaching is geared to get you unstuck and right where you want to be!
Follow Natalie on Twitter here @Coach_Costa
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