On the podcast today I talk about how assertiveness means using your voice. Having your thoughts, feelings, opinions, needs and boundaries in the room, and stated in a healthy, grounded way so folks can feel safe because you are confident and trustworthy. But what if you can’t? You might be struggling with some of the following ways we tend to “hide” when we speak, instead of risking putting ourselves out there. Some are more obvious than others, and this is by no means an exhaustive list, because communication is very complex. Read on to see what I mean.
Inflection. According to https://www.centervention.com/voice-inflection, “ Voice inflection, or intonation, is when we change the tone or pitch of our voice when we are speaking in order to convey a more precise meaning for our words or provide insight about how we are feeling.” This feels more emotionally safe for the listener, because there is no incongruence between what you are saying and HOW you are saying it. They intuitively feel that what you are saying is genuine and about you, so they can trust it.
Speaking Too Loudly…or Not Loud Enough. There are several reasons you could be too loud, and usually it’s anxiety-driven and stems from childhood. Perhaps never feeling listened to, or taken seriously, or anxious you won’t be honored. Conversely, talking too softly and not putting the “I’m pretty certain” in your voice is often avoidance of conflict. You want to be heard but are afraid of being bullied or dismissed. Or worse. Your voice is often more monotone, so that you can keep the listener at arms- length because you aren’t revealing your true feelings.
End with Question or Ask for Affirmation. Using words such as “Right?” or “Don’t you agree” can often make for blurred boundaries. The insinuation is that perhaps you aren’t completely convinced of your truth, so you need affirmation or agreement from the listener or the reader. Now, recently this has been used to just be connecting, or said in jest, but for the most part try to eliminate the question at the end of your statement. Instead, just state what you mean and leave it there.
Things You Say. I’m a stickler for this, and if you’ve been listening to the podcast, you know that I think any time you put it on the other, it’s manipulative and emotionally dishonest. The messaging is “because of you…I….” instead of just taking ownership of how you feel. Make sure instead you let them know that you are choosing to say the next statement, you own how you feel about it and you don’t imply or insinuate it’s their fault. Because it’s not. Either take ownership and say it or don’t say it at all until you are ready to convey something like “I need to set a limit on how much time I can give you today.” “I Hate to Say This, But…” This makes it about you, and it hides your true feelings. When it is referring to something serious and not when you are joking, I think it would be better to say it more vulnerably, such as “I feel bad I need to throw this at you”, or “I can imagine this might be hard to hear.” Showing empathy and compassion while still owning the thing you need to say to them. It’s more validating and emotionally honest.
There’s so much more to this, but I think this gives an idea of ways you might be hiding. If you do these, it’s not your fault, since many are fear-based survival skills you had to use early on since it wasn’t safe to be vulnerable and honest. Or to risk conflict by saying no. To speak your truth and have it respected and accepted. I believe that if you work on one thing at a time, you will want and need to change the other things as you go, because you might just actually enjoy being more direct, calm, and grounded when you connect your True Self with others. Anything less begins to feel fake and disconnected.