When have you wanted to say something to a group of people and held back?

It’s usually a small decision to speak or not to speak and not speaking up seldom leads to regrets.

We may tell ourselves that we stayed silent out of respect for someone because we didn’t want to hurt their feelings. We may not be clear on how to phrase what we want to say or we may be concerned that people will judge us on our speaking skills or message.

We can always find a way to justify keeping quiet.

We allow these thoughts to win over our desire to speak. And it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we can get in the habit of finding excuses for not speaking up and our voice gets quieter.

By not speaking up, it’s possible that those around us are missing out on our unique voice, ideas, point of view, and maybe even words of inspiration. Just suppose they’re not judging our ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ or the sound of our voice. Imagine if our small decision to speak, rather than stay silent, actually made a difference. What if our words provided someone with comfort, relief, or perhaps a new way of looking at something?

When we really want to say something, our habit of finding a reason to stay silent makes it all the more difficult to step up. We haven’t taken the small steps along the way to practice speaking and so have not developed our confidence and skills. The important occasion suddenly makes the decision bigger, but the voices of doubt become stronger. We may decline to speak and live with regrets.

By taking the small opportunities to speak, we can slowly build confidence, so that when the bigger opportunities arise, we feel more empowered and have no cause for regrets.

When is your next opportunity to make a small decision in favour of giving yourself a voice?