Finding Your Confidence & Trusting Your Voice
How to Find Your Voice
“The only way to find your voice is to use it” – Jen Mueller
A lot of women still believe that time and money are the keys to achieving their goals and finding success. While that’s really important, finding our voice can elevate us towards our goals much faster than we realise.
Many women grew up in a patriarchal culture, which can lead to significant self-doubt. However, although more of us are finding the confidence to find our voice in our personal and professional lives, there is still a long way to go.
Women have been taught to question and doubt themselves rather than question authority. This is doubly hard for many who have the added pressure to find their own voice as well as learn to stand in their own power.
So what does it mean to “find your voice,” and more importantly, how do we actually achieve this? How do we put our values into words and deliver them in a way that will be heard and respected? The good news is, that finding our voice is a skill that can be learned. And in finding it, success will follow!
What Stops Women From Expressing Their Voice?
A multitude of things that can prevent us from expressing ourselves strongly and clearly.
Even with the best education, experience and skill set, many women lack the confidence to express themselves. At the risk of repeating myself, the majority of women have been socialised to be quiet and accommodating for generations. This in turn, makes it very difficult and uncomfortable to ‘find your voice’.
One of the most common external factors is gender bias, where it’s been shown that women are interrupted more often than men. Their input is not given the same consideration as their male peers – I’ve personally experienced this, have you? This means many of us are less likely to be heard in group settings and this is so frustrating.
What can contribute to this problem is a lack of female representation in both leadership and female mentor role models. It’s not until we see connect with other women in leadership positions that we will begin to believe that we can achieve this level of success.
Internal factors can also play a role in silencing a woman’s voice, including things like self-doubt, fear of failure and impostor syndrome. I’m sure we can all identify with one or more of those, can’t we? While they are normal feelings to have, apparently as women we are more likely to experience these factors at higher levels than men.
Did you know that Studies show how women across a range of industries experience feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt in their life and career. Attributed to the fact that women are often less likely to receive recognition, they are more likely to be criticised for their mistakes.
The good news is that we can change this but it starts with us, right here, right now! Are you in?
Finding Your Voice
Let’s do this! It is important for us to find our voice so the first step is understanding that we have one.
When we talked about this in the Ruffle office, we realise how easy it is to silence ourselves in order to avoid confrontation. But if we don’t speak up, we’ll never be heard.
So where do we start?
We have found that finding our voice has taken courage and practice. It’s all about taking small, meaningful steps that help us look and sound much more confident and assertive.
1. What You Have To Say Has Value!
Do you sometimes feel that what you have to say has no value? Yep, we do too. And when we add that societal belief that it is unfeminine to be assertive, to speak up, to have strong opinions or to take up space… Something needs to change!
At the end of the day, our thoughts, feelings and opinions are absolutely valid and deserve to be heard. Believe it or not, your voice is powerful. Given that fact, by finding your voice and speaking with more confidence and conviction, you will be taken seriously and you will be heard. That old way of thinking that we aren’t enough is boring. Let’s flip that around starting today!
You. Are. Enough.
2. Start Small
If speaking up is a whole new concept for you, just start small. Begin with low-risk scenarios where finding your voice may be a little less uncomfortable. This may be at home with family or with a friend.
Alternatively, you may choose a particular meeting where someone asks for opinions. You know your stuff, so stand in your power and share your thoughts speaking strongly and clearly.
It doesn’t mean you won’t be interrupted by the way! One way to deal with this is to firmly say “One moment please John, would you mind holding your thought for a moment while I explain…”.
In another scenario, if you have a great idea for a project at work, speak to your boss and share your thoughts. Again, when we discussed this scenario in the Ruffle office, a point that was made was to be well prepared by considering the possible negative responses. That way you’ll be ready for it and less likely to be shut down.
These steps are pivotal in learning to express yourself and build your confidence. Practice makes perfect. Over time, you’ll find it easier to speak up, be more connected to you and communicate clearly in more challenging situations.
3. Don’t Worry About Being Liked
We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t want to be liked and accepted by others. However, it’s liberating when we believe in ourselves and ‘let go’ of what others think about us. Shine your light out there! By being you, you will attract people with the same values and who respect what you have to say.
Of course, it’s always important that we communicate our thoughts in a way that is respectful while staying true to ourselves. Even if we have to make a hard call at times.
4. Be Clear About Your Message, Your Values, and What You Stand For
When we’re clear about our message, it is easier to communicate with conviction. This means having a strong understanding of our values and what we stand for.
So ask yourself:
- What are your core values?
- What is your vision for your life?
- What kind of impact do you want to create?
Now that you’ve asked yourself these questions, take the time to discover your values for yourself. Once you know these, it will be easier to share your thoughts with others in a way that is clear and concise.
5. Take Action
The next time you find yourself in a situation where you feel like you need to speak up, take action. Imagine us here as your cheerleaders! Don’t allow yourself to be silenced. If you want to see a change in your life or in the world around you, just keep practicing.
6. Acknowledge That There Will Be Discomfort
Finding your voice and building the confidence to speak out are invaluable skills to have, However, as we’ve pointed out this process can be uncomfortable. But it is important to remember that these are natural feelings that come with taking risks. We’ve all felt them and still do. The more you do it, the easier it will become, until eventually, it will become second nature. You go girl!
7. Find A Mentor
When overcoming imposter syndrome and self-doubt, the majority of women in business and leadership roles believe that the advice of a mentor and trusted advisor are vital. We agree! If you’re looking for guidance and support as you find your voice, consider finding a female mentor. Of course we have the best ones here 🙂
These women have been where you are and can help you navigate difficult conversations, give you feedback on your communication style and offer suggestions on how to communicate more effectively.
Your Voice Matters
Finding your voice is an ongoing journey. It’s something that we all have to work on every day. Just know that it is possible to find the confidence to speak up and be heard. Remember, your thoughts, feelings and opinions are valid. And you have the power to make a difference.
When you begin to speak out for what you believe in and use your voice without apology, you not only empower yourself but all women. Yep, let that light shine!
Ruffle Mentoring will offer you the support, guidance and resources you need to find your voice and become true to yourself. Our growing directory of successfully female mentors and leaders are ready to help you achieve your professional and personal goals. Browse today and find the right mentor for you!