This week, I’ve had to deal with some pretty tricky builders who have told big fibs and been unreliable. It has called upon me to be brave and confront them with my powerful voice. I find this difficult. I think we all do. Nobody relishes conversations like that. The alternative is to put up with it (be passive) or get all het up and shout at them (aggressive) which won’t get me anywhere.
I knew that the only way I was going to overcome it was to face my fear and step out of my comfort zone.
What is your powerful voice?
Your powerful voice is the one which you use when you are able to stand up for yourself, say you don’t like something or ask for what you want whilst staying calm remembering to be polite and respecting the other person. I want you to think about:
When might you need your powerful voice?
Children who are bullied or who have tricky friends really need to locate their powerful voice. It’s like a magic bullet which will keep them safe if they push beyond the scared feelings.
When do you feel you can speak up most easily?
A lot of us are more comfortable talking about tricky subjects in writing or on the phone because we have time to compose our reply. Have you seen those gorgeous books for parents, called Just Between Us where you and your child become penpals for those tricky topics. Children also like to talk when they think you can’t see them – in the dark when you tuck them in at night or in the car when you can only fix your gaze on the road ahead. At this point, I think it helps to reflect and ask if you are creating an environment conducive to sharing for your child?
When you are able to say what you feel, it’s great isn’t it? To be able to say how you feel is liberating. You have taken back your power. This is why I like to call it your powerful voice. You feel strong and confident. It feels like you are being you with nothing do hide. Do you feel carefree – like you have nothing to worry about or nothing to fear?
What happens if you don’t speak up?
When we swallow our feelings down or hold back on our words, it’s not good for us and we also give away our power to the other person. We need to be like our own best friend. We need to be loyal and true to ourselves. I also know some people who don’t say anything and then they go and complain about you to other people. Maybe you are too scared to tell them how you feel and you need some help learning how to deal with tricky people.
This is about having a win-win for both parties
Here are my top tips for discovering and using your powerful voice when you need to:
Tone of Voice & Body Language
- Shoulders back, stand tall and make eye contact
- Keep your body language open (no crossed arms or finger pointing)
- Smile and breathe (relaaaax)
- Be polite and have respect for the other person
- Keep your voice steady and clear (no mumbling or hesitating)
- It helps to remember you are on the same team so you can reach a compromise
It’s important that we listen as well as much as we use our powerful voice so we can hear what the other person wants as well.
Use I Statements
This is so that you take responsibility for your feelings and aren’t accusing the other person. So for example, you could say ‘I feel upset when you are mean to me. That is rude and not OK. Then you can make a request for what you want. ‘I would like you to speak to me respectfully.’
I find it helps to write down what you want to say and to say it aloud in front of a mirror or do a role play with a friend. Keep saying it like you are learning lines for a play.
The first time you step up and stand up for yourself, you may feel afraid. This is normal. Take deep breaths and go for it. You will feel fab afterwards and the more often you use your powerful voice, the more confident you will be. It’s like going to the gym to tone your muscles, flex your powerful voice as often as you can and it will come to you more naturally.
What stops you from doing it?
Sometimes children say to me that they are scared something bad will happen but they can’t tell me what it is. I think that’s because they have been punished for speaking up before. Other children tell me they are afraid that other people won’t believe them or they are worried people will think they are rude.
That’s because in the past these children have been punished for standing up for themselves or people have dismissed their stories or not believed them. Or they have been told they are mean or rude for standing their ground. I think this where authoritarian parenting falls short because it incites fear in the child and is the ‘do as you are told’ mentality which takes away the child’s voice and their ability to take charge in certain situations. They seek permission to do things instead of taking the initiative. This is why I’m a huge fan of Connection Parenting which role models respect and kindness.
It’s most definitely possible to be assertive and forceful without being rude or mean. If you follow the steps I’ve mentioned above and practise (Watch your tone of voice and body language) you can do it!
What if somebody still won’t listen?
Become a parrot ! What do parrots do? They repeat themselves over and over again. So you might say something like: ‘I don’t want to…’ Yes but I don’t want to….’Yes I hear what you are saying but I have said I don’t want to.
If you want to learn more about sticking up for yourself, setting boundaries with others and dealing with tricky people, Smiley Coaching can help you with that. I also have a new course called ‘Be Your Own Best Friend’ which will make sure you’ve got the skills to deal with these tricksters.
Imagine how great you will feel learning this at such a young age. By the time you are my age (that’s old!) you will be an absolute Pro!