Speaking up while shaking.
I was sitting on the third row of a packed out conference hall, notepad in hand listening to a speaker whose argument was clearly having an impact on the audience. But I happened to know that he wasn't telling the truth. I glanced at the audience around me but everyone seemed to be buying what he was saying...
I knew had two options, stay quiet, or speak up. But the very idea of contradicting the man on stage with the microphone in front of 300 people was making me sweat. My body felt shaky, my face was going red and I hadn't even opened my mouth! I could barely hear what was going on while I was listening to my thoughts have their own argument 'don't do it you'll look like a total idiot' AND 'you cant let this guy get away with this!'
In a moment (of madness?!) I stuck up my hand and spoke up. All conference delegates stared at me, seemingly a bit shocked that I was directly contradicting what the man with the microphone! My voice was shaking and my face was really red, but I was making my point.
My primitive brain was signalling that I was in DANGER! It desperately wanted me to STAY QUIET so I didn't die. But my primitive brain wasn't a good judge of the actual danger I was in. Sure, it was embarrassing, I was red and everyone could hear my voice shaking, but 6 years later I'm still proud that I managed to speak up in that moment because it mattered. If I had waited until I felt confident I would have stayed silent that day.
Now I coach professional women on confidence I hear various versions of this story all the time....
I didn’t share my opinion/idea or suggestion in that meeting because my brain was saying – you are going to sound stupid / you are going to sound like an idiot.
I didn't challenge it even thought I knew he was wrong, then I was really frustrated with myself afterwards.
Our primitive brain can stop us from speaking up because it is trying to protect us. But it's not always a good judge of what is actually dangerous and it can leave us feeling frustrated with ourselves when we stay quiet.
I wholeheartedly believe your workplace and our world NEEDS to hear you.
AND I know that even if you don't always speak up now, it doesn't have to be that way forever. You can learn how and why it happens AND you can re-wire your brain to speak up when you want to.
If you want to learn how to speak up more often, even when you are afraid, join my signature coaching and training programme Confident at Work . We will get you speaking up in a room full of people even when you are afraid. The doors are open, book a free call now: