Know When to Speak Your Mind and When to Back Down
Mature individuals respect those with opinions different than their own… Sometimes. However, if you play the part of the contrarian too often, people will start to take you less seriously. People are more likely to hear you out if you pick and choose your battles; as opposed to those people who are always looking to cause drama.
Below are some strategies to help you speak your mind in the right circumstances, avoiding negative consequences in the process. Don’t be one of those intolerable types who likes to disagree and argue with others just for the sake of doing so. Choose the other, more sophisticated way.
There are Times to Agree and Times to Disagree. Learn How to Pick and Choose Your Battles and When to Stick to Your Guns in the Right Situations
Some people are better than others at keeping their opinions hidden until the right opportunity. When your opinion isn’t the same as someone else’s, are you often too eager to let them know about it?
Your Beliefs Revolve Around Your Values
Remember to keep your beliefs flexible enough to make room for revisions. Make an honest effort to hear people out and you might learn something new in the process.
However, always keep your set of fundamental core values the same and live by them every day. When you are consistent with your values, people see you as sincere with your words and actions. Here are some tips to help you learn how to speak your mind, and how to get people to listen:
Start With Something Positive
When you speak your mind, focus on being empathetic of the other person’s feelings. Before giving negative feedback or criticism on their valued opinion, pretend they are someone very important. Like the President of the United States, or a trusted friend, or your mother.
If any of these people said something you disagreed with, you wouldn’t completely rip into them, would you? Show the same respect to anybody else you are talking to. If you must criticize, then start off with a positive remark or a question beforehand. For example: I see what you’re saying, but… Excellent point! One thing I would add, however… What about ________, though? I don’t exactly understand what you mean by _________, could you explain again?
The Golden Rule
Hear them out
Try to eliminate the phrases “I disagree” and “That’s wrong” out of your vocabulary when speaking to someone else. It’s ok to disagree with them as long as you don’t rub it in their face.
But allow them to disagree with you. Because none of your opinions are absolute truths that everyone else must agree with. Make your opinion known, but always leave enough room to have your mind changed by theirs.
Keep Your Cool
In the heat of the moment, we all tend to say things we don’t mean. If you give in to that “heat”, there is a good chance you will regret it later on. Next time when you sense tensions are running high, exit the conversation before emotions spill over and materialize into words. Simply say “Let’s agree to disagree”, smile, and leave it at that.
If someone else wants to end the discussion, respect that wish and don’t push your beliefs further onto them. When we get our point across against someone else’s will, they tend to become resentful. You feel like you “won”, but you didn’t because that person lost respect for you. Additionally, as a rule of thumb, try to keep your opinions to yourself unless you are asked for them.
Practice Makes Perfect
Picking your battles means knowing when to give in and let it go. Being “right” is not worth having someone harbor ill feelings toward you afterward. If you must speak your mind, do so with caution.
Experience is the greatest asset for being empathetic with others’ point of view. If you decide to take the high road and agree with someone you don’t necessarily agree with, you are showing self-restraint that separates adults from children. You may even find afterward that the particular subject may not have been worth arguing about in the first place!
Be Direct and Stick to the Topic
Speak your piece, then stop and listen. Nobody likes someone who constantly beats around the bush. It’s just a way to mask your true opinion. Be concise with your choice of words and never leave your opinion up for interpretation. You get more respect this way, and are able to illicit an equally direct response. When you speak your mind, choose a specific issue to focus on rather than trying to deal with too many things at once. If you are the type of person to go off on tangents to prove a point, you are more likely to cause confusion instead of understanding! Keep your opinions short, precise, and to the point.
Stay Consistent with Your Opinions
When you stick to your guns, you never sacrifice who you are and your values for someone else. Wish-washy people get taken advantage of and their opinions are overlooked. Have opinions that are flexible and subject to change at any time. However, state your opinions with conviction, in order to project confidence with your point of view. Respect yourself and your opinions; that way other people will follow, and even respect, even if your opinion isn’t correct.
Wait For the Right Opportunity to Speak Your Mind
This next tip is dependent on the situation. More specifically: Whether you are in a big group or 1v1 conversation, and whether the event is formal or casual. Stating your opinion and having it validated is always a good feeling, so speaking your mind at the right moment is necessary and beneficial for your growth. So don’t be afraid to speak up and get noticed. On one hand, if you are overeager, you risk interrupting someone else and the impact of your opinion is lessened. On the other hand, if you wait too long, your voice will be drowned out. When you speak your mind, focus on the timing, and remember that it always depends on the situation.