As we spring forward into a new season, March is also the month we take time to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD).
“Have you ever wondered which hurts the most, saying something and wishing you had not, or saying nothing and wishing you had.”
Self-empowerment includes springing forward and taking steps to speak up on your own behalf. It can be uncomfortable and even frightening at times. I know, your heart can start to beat fast before you can get the first word out. You search for the three “rights”, the right Words, the right Time, and the right Place. In the moment, may not always be the right time or place, however, it could be your empowering moment. The point is that you have a right to respond or not.
You don’t have to use the wrecking ball approach to break your wall of silence if you decide to respond. The wrecking ball symbolizes a hard approach, where you behave in an abrasive, “tell it like it is, in-your-face”, attacking way. It can do serious damage to your relationships and your professional reputation. Finding your voice and speaking up for yourself in an effective and respectful way is a talent you can develop as you build your self-empowerment muscles.
“The greatest talent one can have is learning when to speak and when to not.”
― Bryant A. Loney
Management consultant, Noel Tichy’s TPC Conceptual Framework can be a useful tool. The framework suggests there are three major dynamics to consider before you make the move to spring forward and make the decision to speak up. Each dynamic raises questions about the situation:
Technical Dynamic: Can I do this? Do I have the skills and ability to speak up for myself in a respectful way?
Power Dynamic: What is the power structure of the relationship? Who am I dealing with? Whose power is being challenged? What do I have to lose or gain by speaking up at this time and place?
Cultural Dynamic: In this type of situation and at this place, what is seen as acceptable behavior? What values and traditions are you challenging by speaking up? Is expressing yourself valued? Are you in a “safe to say” working environment? Traditionally, has it been okay for some individuals but not others to confront offensive comments directed at them?
You may be shy, you want to avoid conflict, or may not know the words to say, but sometimes staying silent can be more damaging than speaking up. Whether it’s to stick up for yourself or intervene when you see wrong doing, have the courage to say what needs to be said. It could be when your coworker, manager, parent, spouse, sibling or a peer has made a demeaning comment to you or about someone else. In the past, you felt you should have said something, but, for various reasons you didn’t.
When you are an authentic, self-empowered woman with integrity, your goal is to keep the relationship on a positive level, while being true to yourself and your feelings. This takes a gathering your thoughts.
Your opinion has value and you have every right and sometimes an obligation to express it. Whether you are angry or calm, the challenge is responding with respect when you don’t feel respected by the person or environment you find yourself in.
Author, Leslie C. Aguilar recommends use of an Ouch technique when responding to demeaning comments. My adaption of the OUCH technique can be beneficial in confronting challenging situations. Ouch indicates to the other person, their words had a negative and sometimes hurtful impact on you. With this technique, you model the respect you would like to receive by speaking up in a positive way. After all, you might unintentionally step on someone’s toes someday and would like the same courteous behavior shown to you.
Here is how it works…..
O – Recognize the OPPORTUNITY you have to speak up. Say “Ouch!”, then explain why you said it and the impact the comment had on you. Acknowledge that the person(s) may not have intended to offend you.
U – Seek to UNDERSTAND the rationale behind the comment while maintaining a positive good faith effort without blaming or attacking the other person(s).
C – CLARIFY by asking open-ended questions.
H – HARNESS the areas where there is agreement, lessons learned from the interaction and how you can address these situations in the future.
This technique is a way to remain self-empowered, express yourself, and maintain the self-esteem of others involved. You can use it with an individual, with-in a group, at work or at home. Use the TPC Framework to determine the dynamics of the situation, the time and place to speak up. If the timing isn’t right, you can find a more appropriate time to address something that was said earlier.
Using your voice can be self-empowering, give it a try.
“It’s not about finding your voice, it’s about giving yourself permission to use your voice.”__ Kris Carr
“Stay Tapped In to the wonderful things life has to offer.”
A Dynamic and engaging speaker, Dr. Myra Hubbard is available for Presentations, Conferences, Retreats, Training, and Consulting engagements. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-481-2268.