Finding Your Voice
I love this next question from one of our seminar participants:
Do you have any other recommendations for getting comfortable with your own voice?
This is SO important. And yes I do…
Though before we get to the advice stuff, I want to share that on my own journey, I have come to learn that “finding your own voice” really means finding your values and having the courage to stand up for and live into them. Once you have that down, I believe your voice will come naturally.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
Find as many ways as possible to practice expressing yourself so that in that moment when you have to express yourself, and it really matters, you have all the confidence and familiarity with your own voice (and values) that you need.
Here are a few suggestions:
First You with You
If you are shy or not sure what you want to say, then find some time every day or once a week to do some internal work. Just you being with and listening to you.
- Journal. If you can, journal every day. When you feel those feelings welling up inside you but you are not sure you should articulate them to anyone, write it out. The page is very forgiving. You can swear at it. You can curse at it. You can cry on it. You can have blabber mouth and it won’t interrupt you. Get it all out. Then, a little later, go back, reread what you wrote and look for the insights. Find the words that you are proud of and real for you. Find the words that indicate that you have a little more maturing to do. Then live into the words and the values behind them that are “you” and refine the words that still need work.
- Sing. If you don’t already know how, learn to sing. Sing in the shower. Sing in your head. Sing in your car. The best way to get to know and love your own voice is to hear it out loud. I also believe that there is something magical and healing that happens when the body sings. Those that practice using the mantra “OM” understand that the vibrations of that sound have a positive impact on the cells in your body and on all the rest of you. Singing with a group, just amplifies that effect.
- Work on the Throat Chakra. If you don’t know much about it, get to know the throat chakra, the body’s center of communication and expression.
Now You with Others
Once you have done the internal work, then begin to practice your voice with others.
- Toast Masters International is a wonderful resource for this. There are clubs all over the country and the world. Every club follows the same curriculum for helping people learn how to speak in front of an audience in a supportive setting with a group of people that want you to be successful because they want you to help them be successful.
- Join a Singing Group. You saw this one coming didn’t you?! A choir, an A Capella, an impromptu jam round the campfire. These are all good places to feel what it feels like to add your voice to the mix. I still haven’t mastered this one.
- Talk it Out. Remember that journal? Once you have your insights from your journaling, find someone to be your sounding board. What do they think of your new found opinions and values? Not from a discussion point of view, but rather from a “I’m trying on a new coat. How does it look on me?” point of view. In this mode, your sounding board is really playing the role of a life coach, helping you be the best you. Make sure they are clear on their role and what you are asking them to do.
- Join a martial arts group. If finding your voice means learning how to tell others “no” or “stop”, then a martial arts group might help so that you have the confidence to back up your words with action, if you need to. Hopefully, you won’t ever need to. But luck favors the prepared mind (Louis Pasteur).
When It Matters
If you have something you really need to say, and in the context of this blog, if it relates to standing up for yourself in a sexual harassment or retaliation matter, then what you say matters. In this case, you really need to practice.
- Write it out.
- Talk it out
- Say it out loud many times in front of your sounding board and other trusted friends, HR consultants, lawyers and whoever else needs to know about it before you present it.
I hope these suggestions lean toward the advice you were looking for. I would love to hear how others have learned to find their own voice.