Use your voice.
This is what went through my mind, as I listened to one of the audience members use her voice. I wasn’t thinking ‘ohhh, shit’ because she was using her voice. Nope. I’m all for women using their voices.
I was thinking ‘ohhhh, shit,’ because what she was saying was contentious. I could feel the tension in the room rise.
Because while she didn’t directly say it, the general theme of what she was saying was: ‘people who don’t say ‘hi’ to me are a**holes.’ In the full context, she was saying that ‘some people are simply a**holes, and these are not my kind of people.’ She did not mean it in a mean way, I know this.
I kept my mouth shut. I’ve learned to use my intuition everywhere, and my intuition told me to zip it.
I could have spoken up. As the facilitator for the evening, it was my job to ensure that conversation runs smoothly. Not necessarily without controversy, because that’s often where growth happens. But that we, as a group, try to look at all sides. That we don’t judge the sh*t out of each other.
But I kept my mouth shut, even though I didn’t know why.
Two minutes later, another woman put up her hand.
‘I take offense to shy people being called a**holes. I’m an introvert, and I don’t think I’m an asshole. But I’m shy. And I won’t necessarily say hi to you, even if you say it first. I’m simply shy. I'm not an a**hole.’
I know that it took this woman a lot of courage to speak up. To use her voice. As an introvert, she maybe even started sweating at the thought of speaking up. But she knew she needed to. To open up the eyes of the extroverts. To say ‘wait a damn second. I’m kind. I’m not an a**hole. Let’s not put a blanket judgment out there.’
Kudos to the woman who spoke up. Who used her voice to say: ‘wait a second.’
Kudos to the woman who expressed her opinion initially. Who used her voice to share her experience (because it’s true, some people ARE just a**sholes). This initial sharing started the conversation for learning for all of us.
The key is to not take it personally. To respect others’ opinions, but to know that your opinion is just as valid.
Here’s the thing: we ALL need to use our voices.
(Here's Shawna MacDougall, using HER voice at our Kenosee Lake event this summer)
Often we don’t. We doubt ourselves; we think that what we have to say isn’t valuable or worthy. So we don’t say anything at all.
But when we speak up? When we are willing to say ‘hey, wait a second,’ that’s when MAGIC happens.
How do I know this? The story above is just one of dozens that I’ve witnessed this summer, over 15 events. When we use our voices, share our perspective, then opinions shift. Eyes and minds, and hearts are opened.
That’s the beauty of open, honest, respectful conversations in safe places.
While I didn’t speak to these two women after the event, my hope is that they felt seen. Heard. Maybe a little shaken. Just like the rest of us were.
But to them? I bow down. Their willingness to use their voices? THAT creates lasting change.
Now over to you: when have you used your voice, but didn’t necessarily want to? Can you think of a time? Perhaps it made you shake, made you second-guess yourself, made you start sweating? But in the end, you were SO glad you used your voice.
Are you willing to share that experience with us, in the comments below?
For me, it was during a 30-person meeting in a huge boardroom in Calgary. I was the only female.
The. Only. Geologist. In. A. Sea. Of. Engineers.
And I had to explain that a new technology was THE way forward, despite their eye rolls and ‘but we’ve always done it this way’ attitude. Holy crap, I had to shut my office door after the meeting and air out my pits and let the redness leave my face. But they soon started using that technology.
So tell me: what’s your ‘holy-sh*t, I’m-speaking-up’ story?
Supporting you, and your voice,