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Speaking Up

In school, I was that person that rarely participated. I was never the one to raise my hand fifty times in one class, or actively volunteer to speak in front of an audience. It turns out that I am not that bad at speaking in front of people, but it is the first step of sticking my hand into the air without protection that has always scared me.

Yesterday, after considering many options (Read: crying, whining, listening to sad music), my husband suggested that maybe I should confront my boss and another coworker about the frustration that had been building around an issue.

This was an issue that had started prior to my coming to my current position – MONTHS prior. And yet no one here that have been here for years, seemed to know how to fix it. His idea was for me to confront them, lay down the gauntlet and say: I can’t do this. You can’t do this. WHY are you all so stupid?? (or that is at least how I heard the suggestion.)

My initial thoughts were: NO. I never talk to people like that. ever. it is just not possible. I really shut down and continued to just be extremely upset. For mostly the rest of the day.

Today, I kind of woke up a bit different. I had figured out what it was that really upset me. I didn’t go into work today with the quest to fix it, but I actually kind of did.

Trust me, this is not a universal band-aid. I did not change my boss nor did I change my dissatisfaction with the position. I simply said “I need to talk.” And talk I did. For almost an hour, and I laid out a plan, and they accepted how we should move forward with the database.

It wasn’t ideal. I didn’t philosophize or tell them what was really bothering me. But it was as close to opening up as I was going to get with two people who I really have a hard time understanding or communicating with.

What does it mean when we are afraid to speak our minds? Is being introverted or shy really an answer? Maybe it is. I definitely have periods of shyness, and even my husband used to refer to me as his “shy friend.” Sometimes I am shy about my running, or the way my pants look, or the way my voice sounds. Sometimes I am so shy that it’s hard for me to watch my entire wedding video.

In the workplace, are we allowed to be shy? Sure we are. Employers may even love it. They can give you a lot of work, and you don’t complain! Right? Maybe.

Some managers probably love that (mine included, because he is in fact, very shy.)

But some, and really more often than not the better, cooler ones want you to speak your mind!

Share your ideas! Express yourself! It is super hard. It is not that easy. And it takes like 45 tries before you actually come away feeling better and sometimes vindicated. Today was my first attempt. I guess that means I have 44 more times to go.

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