Today I have no voice to speak of. Everything is coming out squeaky and sporadically. For those of you who have met me, you know that’s rare! As a very high extrovert on the Myers-Briggs scale I’m rarely at a loss for words.
For me this lack of speaking is from simple laryngitis. For some of you reading this there are much longer-term influences that have either silenced your ability to speak up in certain situations or caused you to be unclear or watered-down when you do get the courage to speak.
The home I grew up in was highly dysfunctional and as kids we all used different coping skills. I chose to be “the good girl” - I got very good at being nice and doing things to make other people feel good. This went with the magical thinking that I could change my Dad’s mood and prevent a blow-up from him or bring him around after he’d had one.
As an adult I had to learn how to get in touch with my emotion of anger because I had suppressed it so much. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I actually felt, and knew I was feeling, anger. Since then it has been an intentional journey to become more assertive.
the ability to know what you are thinking and feeling
and the ability to express it in ways that don’t minimize you
and don’t intentionally cause harm to others.
This is not to say that highly assertive people don’t make other people uncomfortable when they speak truth. That is part of the growth journey for those of us growing from the passive side. I had to learn to be comfortable with my words, my questions, my feelings making other people uncomfortable. I had to learn that what I had to contribute was that important.
I also had to learn some very practical techniques, tools and language so that I could feel more confident to speak up and less worried that I was going to completely alienate myself if I shared my opinion.
One of my greatest joys as a coach is to support people’s growth on this journey towards being more assertive - from either end. To those who come from the aggressive side and don’t want to have to learn to “sugar coat” their words I would like to say that there is a way to say what you need to say but not destroy the relationship in the process.
One of the best results of healthy robust assertiveness is that we really get to be seen, heard, understood and known. Something we all need.
Posted on Fri, July 10, 2015
by Marilyn Orr filed under