Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search
to find that voice can be remarkably difficult. 

– Melinda Gates
Black and white image of three ladies Photo of Congress
Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash

In the early twentieth century, Emmeline Pankhurstled
led the suffragette movement to get British
women the right to vote.
Her voice, accompanied by the voices of
thousands of other women, was finally
heard in 1928 when women over the age
of 21 were granted a vote. 

Decades later, British women and women
around the world, use their votes to voice
and support views, opinions, and ideas that shape
modern society. 

The voices of Emmeline and the women who come before us echo through
history to remind us how important it is to speak up for ourselves and others. 

What happens when you lose your voice?

We often need to speak up when we feel a boundary has been violated. 

Reinforcing a boundary can conflict with your desire to be accepted
or avoid conflict and punishment. If you have had negative experiences
while advocating for yourself and being assertive, you are likely to shy away. 

But as Malala Yousafzai once said
‘We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.’ 

When you remain silent, you internalize the emotional fallout and lose
your self-esteem, self-worth, and confidence. And to deal with the distress,
you will be forced to rationalize behaviour that does not align with your
values and beliefs.

How To Find Your Voice

Women Who Run With the Wolves Book Cover
Photo by Guilherme Almeida on Pexels.com

Even when your voice has been muted, ignored, and
punished, you can reclaim it, stand up against a bully, and
negotiate a better salary.
Here is what you can do: 

1.   Understand Your Body. 

If your boundary is violated, you may experience a physical or
emotional nudge to speak out.
You may feel your breathing quicken or feel a lump in your throat. 

Understanding these nudges prevents you from interpreting
the sensations as threats and helps you identify instances
when you need to speak. 

2.   Avoid Apologizing And Over-Explaining. 

If you aren’t used to standing up for yourself, you might notice yourself
apologizing or overly explaining your motives. These actions often steal
focus from your message and accomplishments and water down your

Apologizing when you are wrong is the right move, but avoid doing
it unnecessarily. And always remember that speaking up is a right, and
those listening to you are not doing you a favour, so do not make excuses.

3.   Identify Trigger Phrases That Prompt You To Speak Up. 

The emotional or physical nudge you get to speak out often resembles
a fight, flight or freeze response. If you are prone to flight or freeze
responses, the following phrases might help you speak up. 

4.   Know Your Rights

Women speaking

Women often fail to speak out because
they do not know their rights, especially
in the workplace. Understanding company
policies and escalation procedures will
give you the confidence to stand up for
yourself in case of a violation. 

5.   Use “I” Statements

When communicating your feelings or needs, try to use
“I” statements rather than “you” statements. For example,
instead of saying “You always make me feel upset,” try saying,
“I feel upset when I feel like you are not listening to me.” 

Such statements help express your feelings without placing blame
on the other person.

Do Not Be Silent

A safe book with the words You Can't Find Your Voice If You Don't Use It
Photo by Hussein Abdullah on Unsplash

Overall, finding your voice involves taking
the time to understand your thoughts, feelings,
and values and expressing them confidently and authentically.
It creates a path to a meaningful life
and allows you to tell your story and take up space. 

Madeleine Albright once said

It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that
I have it, I am not going to be silent.

Do not be silent either.