Written by: Noah Safer Published: February 16th, 2022
Lesson #3 - Speak your Mind
In theory, speaking one’s mind should be simple. Just say your thoughts exactly as they come to you, nothing more, nothing less.
But we all know it’s not that easy. What if it comes across as rude? What if it’s irrelevant to the conversation? What if it’s just straight up ignored? There are an infinite amount of variables that emerge in a conversation that could inhibit someone from articulating their exact thoughts. These complications present a challenge, but the benefits of speaking your mind outweigh the slight discomfort in the effort of doing so. I’ll explain.
I never used to voice my honest opinions. I wanted to just avoid confrontation and make sure everyone was happy. I worried what others would think about me if I presented a differing suggestion, even on matters as small as where my family wanted to order takeaway from or where my friends and I wanted to go for a day trip. Even if I didn’t like the group’s decision, I’d go with it without ever thinking of voicing my opinion.
Now this isn’t to say that I always needed to get my way or anything like that. But what I’m saying is that since I wasn’t making decisions and speaking my mind, decisions were being made for me. And maybe it would start off with meaningless dinner suggestions, but it would translate into more important life moments. It felt strange speaking my mind and voicing a firm opinion, but it felt way stranger being the passenger seat in my own life’s decisions.
To move past the awkwardness of speaking up, I imagined myself as the person listening to someone speak their mind. If I asked someone their opinion and they beat around the bush without giving me their honest answer, what good was their response to me? There is more value in someone telling you the truth, even if it’s one you don’t like, then them just trying to please you without offering any opinion. So I worked on becoming a more straightforward person. One who when asked for an opinion, would give it.
Speaking your mind eliminates the possibility of regret. Even if what you say is not given consideration, at least you still said it and made it known. By saying nothing at all, you’ll never know whether what you could have said would have changed some course of action or influenced certain events. Speaking your mind lets people know exactly what you think. Leave it to them to decide what to do with it from there.
Oftentimes, speaking your mind will inspire those around you to do the same. People can be wary of voicing their opinions first, but if you become the leader and kick it off, then it will create a culture of more openness and honesty. Nothing would ever get accomplished if people just kept quiet and kept their thoughts to themselves, so worry less about what others will think about you and focus more about letting your thoughts be known. Of course, all of this is with modesty and respect for others. No one gets anywhere when only rudely honest opinions are shared. Brutal honesty has its place, but there’s room for kind honesty and constructive honesty as well.