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Speaking Up Isn’t Easy, but It’s Worth It

We’ve just finished speaking at two significant women’s events. It was SOOOO fun to speak to women.

Our speech: How to Have Tough Conversations – #Speak Up.

In the news we’ve seen so much this year come out with the Women’s March on Washington, pay inequities in Hollywood, not to mention all of the sexual harassment stories coming to the surface.

Women are speaking up. Thank goodness!

Women are riding a wave of momentum encouraging others to come forward. It’s time, and I love it!

It’s tempting to make the movement about changing men. The problem with that strategy is that you and I have no control over other people, especially the men in our culture.

Plus, let’s face it, not all men are the problem. There are some good men out there who may feel alienated when we make it all about men being bad.

We do, though, have control over our own voices, which can make a difference.

So, we want to encourage you to speak up.

In our new book, The Beauty of Conflict we teach the skills of how to speak up in the midst of conflict on a team. The tools are applicable to everyone in a variety of circumstances.

What you may not realize is – we’re not saying it’s easy. We are saying it’s worth it.

If you do think it’s easy. Check in with yourself. Do you speak up when:

  • you’re uncomfortable?

  • you disagree with someone in power?

  • someone says something inappropriate?

Each individual woman’s decision to speak up and say what happened or when she’s uncomfortable is never easy.

Take me. I’m still terrified when it comes to conflict. When two people I care about are arguing, I have a whole body nervous system on red alert. My body tenses up. All sorts of scary thoughts wiz through my brain about losing the relationships. I either start facilitating the conversation or want to just bolt.

I’ve started becoming aware of my reaction in the moment, instead of just being driven by it. It has taken me some time, but now I can finally recognize my reaction and intervene on my own behalf. I do speak up and say, “I’m uncomfortable. You two can keep arguing, but I’m going to leave until you’re finished.”

Why It’s Worth It

Think about the times you didn’t speak up. What was the cost of not speaking up?

When I don’t speak up I lose a bit of myself. I contract. Feel less than or silently make them wrong, which is not the solution. There are so many times I didn’t speak up. When:

  • I was 13 years old when a 17-year-old boy molested me. I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t tell anyone about it.

  • My Olympic rowing team was deciding to use an experimental boat. I was injured, so I didn’t think I had the right to speak up. We lost at the Olympics, and the boat was scraped after the race.

  • A boss at Arthur Andersen gave me a poor project strategy that I knew would fail. At the end of six months, as the on-site leader of the project, I was publicly blamed by the client for the project failing.

The cost to me for not speaking up was: humiliation, shame, and regret. For years and years I believed I was ruined, less than, an idiot. I regret every one of those times. They’ve eaten away at me until I started talking about my mistakes and speaking up when I don’t feel right about something.

When you assume you can’t speak up, you assume you’re not worth hearing. You are dismissing yourself before anyone else can. Your choice to go silent is an automatic dismissal of your value and worth. You assume you don’t have the power and need to wait for someone to give it to you.

So, it’s worth it. You’re worth it because you matter. Your voice matters. Your opinion matters. What you want matters. If you don’t share it, you won’t know how much influence you have.

When you do speak up, your confidence grows because at least you’re valuing your own experience, opinion, or desires. You’re not waiting for someone else to make you matter.

Sure, when you do speak up, you risk being dismissed, criticized, disagreed with. When you don’t speak up you miss the opportunity to be heard, to be understood, to influence.

Plus, what I’ve experienced over and over again is that when I do say what’s true for me then there’s a possibility of coming up with a creative solution. Without it, I have to go along with what other people think. So again, I feel less than, not important.

No, I’m not going to lie. It may not be comfortable, but it is worth it.

You are worth it.



CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke are Master certified life coaches, business consultants, speakers and authors of The Beauty of Conflict. They believe real relationships are the key to creating great business results. They’ll take your team from mediocre to great.

Want to take a class? Sign up for one of their virtual classes: Get Unstuck, Relationship Mojo or come to their signature retreat Find Your Mojo in Montana. Click here to check out all their service offerings.

Click here to contact them to coach with you, consult with your team, or speak at your next event.


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