We are faced with tough choices every single day. Sometimes, the hardest choice is to speak up and stand up for what is right. We all know that we shouldn't let people walk all over us, but how do we actually keep that from happening?
Maybe you weren't raised to speak up. Maybe you are too timid, or nice. Whatever the reason is, it doesn't matter. The following 10 steps will help you say what you need to say AND help others understand where you are coming from with minimum conflict.
Pick your battles wisely
You must choose the situations that negatively impact you the most. If you try these steps EVERY single time you have a problem, you may not be as effective. So, strategically pick your battles. Maybe choose ONE instance per person that is over the top wrong or offensive. How do you pick that ONE instance?
Listen to that little voice inside your head
Your intuition tells you whether a situation is right or wrong. Many times we don't act on it because we want to avoid conflict or confrontation. We will convince ourselves that it's not that serious or we doubt our judgment. If the voice inside your head is so loud, that it's affecting your well-being... THAT's your queue to do something about it.
Don't second guess yourself
It is very scary THINKING about saying something to correct the situation, which makes it almost impossible to work up the courage to SAY something. To avoid the discomfort, we tell ourselves that we are overreacting or flat out think we're not worthy enough to put someone in their place.
I mean who are you anyway? You don't hold the position of power, you aren't the bread winner, you aren't as old, you aren't as smart, your opinion doesn't matter...
WRONG. Your social status has no bearing on your needs as a human being. Your opinion matters and your feelings matter.
What. You. Want. Matters.
Why should anyone else's feelings be more important than your own? They are just as much of a person as you. Everyone has different needs and values in life. It is your responsibility to make it clear what you are not willing to tolerate.
If you can't muster the confidence to stand up for yourself, you really have no right to be upset. Like I said, other people have different values and priorities. They aren't mind readers. You have to SAY something in order to be heard and understood.
Look them in the eye
When the time comes to stand up for yourself, you MUST make eye contact. It is THE MOST important thing when you are dealing with confrontation or conflict. Eye contact will show the other person that you have confidence. It will make it clear that what you are saying is important and force the other person to listen to you.
You may find that they will look away, because they too don't like confrontation. If that is the case, you have the upper hand in the conversation. Own it.
Use your big boy/girl voice
I am NOT telling you to yell. I am saying, project your voice loud enough that the person can hear what you are saying. Do not mumble. Be clear and concise. Your voice should captivate your audience because what you're saying is important for them to hear.
Keep emotion out of it (stick with the facts)
In order to keep the conversation from going south, you MUST state factual information only. Avoid using emotion behind what you are saying.
Crying distracts from the message. Yelling distracts from the message. Condescending remarks distract from the message. Sarcasm distracts from the message... you get the picture.
All of the above EMOTIONAL responses cause people to put their guard up or not take you seriously. They will focus on defense more than the message itself. The whole point of you speaking up is to be HEARD. So try your best to remain calm and speak clearly and concisely with the FACTS.
Keep it simple
Try to dumb down your message as much as possible. The more words you use, the more complicated things get. It also increases the chances of the conversation to crash and burn. Try to make it one sentence.
WHEN YOU DID THIS, IT CAUSED THIS/IT MADE ME FEEL LIKE THIS. Simple.
Stand your ground
The person you are confronting may get defensive. They may try to intimidate you. You MUST remember that what you are saying is IMPORTANT. Do not allow them to sway your opinion on the matter. The fact is that when they did something, it had a negative effect on you. They need to be aware of that, no matter the reasons behind it.
Don't second guess yourself. No matter how mean or belittling they get. They may try to outsmart you. Keep that eye contact and stand tall. YOU MATTER! YOU ARE STRONG! Let them get all bent out of shape. The purpose of you bringing it up was so that it doesn't happen again.
It doesn't matter if they get mad or embarrassed. You said what you needed to say. You remained calm, confident and mature. People don't know how to deal with conflict so they react in weird ways. You did your part by bringing up the problem. Next time they will think twice about doing it again. With that, you win.
Move on/Don't hold a grudge
I told you, people aren't mind readers. When you addressed the issue, it could have caused a rift in your relationship because they never heard that side of you before and they don't know how to act around you anymore... and that's okay! It means that you CHANGED your situation. You stood up for yourself.
I guarantee you, people will have a lot more respect for you... including the person you had the issue with.
When you stand up for yourself, you are fostering an environment for others to stand up as well. You will pave the way and potentially better the surroundings for everyone.