Things annoy us. We sometimes go over things in our mind again and again. “Why did they treat me that way?” “How come they do not listen?” Whatever the situation, I have the perfect quote for you. Nevermind that I cannot remember where I found it last week, or who it is from (an Internet search did not prove helpful). What matters is if it gets you thinking. It has me pondering things in life, work, and with friends and family.
“Stop asking why they keep doing it and start asking why you keep allowing it.”
How many times have you felt walked over, disregarded, or simply not heard? What did you do about it? Did you share how you felt? Did you speak up? Or did you just continue with your day, either because you did not want to deal with it, or because you did not know how best to confront the person, or you tried but they did not listen or hear you? How often does that happen to you? I definitely have had those times. However, I usually do not have an issue speaking up and making sure that my voice is heard.
The eye-opening part about this simple line of words is “why you keep allowing it.” That is the key difference for me. I can speak up all I want, but if things do not change, then I continue to allow the behavior. If someone is being disrespectful to you, and you say something (or even if you do not) what matters most is if they continue to disrespect you and you let them. Interesting that it means we permit these things to happen to us, by not putting a stop to them. I know it is easier said than done, and not all situations are truly in our control, but this idea is a good mantra to remember, that when you continue to complain about why someone keeps treating you in a certain way, that you ask yourself: “Why do I keep allowing them to treat me in that way?”
Your voice. How do you use it? You have to know your own voice, what you believe it, what you stand for, and what matters to you. Once you know your voice, you have to find out how to make it heard. It took me until I was in my early twenties to know what my voice looked and sounded like. Even now a decade and a half later, there are times when it might be strong, but still quivers. Mostly the last ten years have been a time to hone my voice, decide when I am going to open my mouth, and when I will work harder to make it heard.
“Knowing your voice—what you believe and why you believe it—and effectively incorporating that into your work can help set you apart from everyone else. There’s very little else that can do that for you.”
What I love about this quote is that it says “effectively incorporating that into your work” – it does not say conversation or meeting, it says work. That could mean how you incorporate your voice into your project, your new product design, your app. It could mean in your artwork, your presentation, or in closing a deal. It could even mean in how you deliver bad news or how you interact with your co-workers. Your voice is a part of you and not something that you can take on or off. It lives in all you do.
At times you might be in situations where you feel like your voice is a quiet flutter and your authentic voice is not strong, loud, and bold. You might not feel comfortable to speak up and put your career on the line, or take a stand with a friend. Over time that quiet flutter will get stronger and louder and our true voice will stand strong. Be ready for it. It will happen.