The Power of Your Voice
Do you feel like you have a lot to say but sometimes your voice is lost in the noise or overshadowed by the voices of others? People often have strong opinions about certain issues but feel intimidated or hopeless about voicing those opinions, specially if they think that their own voice will not make a difference - when the reality is, your voice could be the one that changes everything.
Just as philosophers once defied what was conventional at their time, and revolutionaries started sharing their message to a small audience before they made any impact, the common thread amongst all leaders is their fearlessness of sharing their thoughts and standing for what they believed in; using their voice.
Although it is true that we might hold different roles in different situations of our lives (for example we might be the decision maker in our family circle and be more of a follower of the pack when we are at work) that does not mean that what we stand for or who we are in our core needs to constantly change. Defining our voice, being able to hone it and use it to create positive change in our life and that of others, is the most powerful exercise we need to complete (specially in your early twenties). Below we share some #BuenaGente tips on how to define your voice and how to use it in an effective and powerful way.
Do you know your own voice?
In the process of creating and defining who we are, we find interesting crossroads that present the opportunity to create an opinion and decide how much something interests us -- is it worth getting involved? Am I passionate about this issue enough and why? The most important part of creating our voice is being consistent and real about what we are defending. In the quest to do so, we recommend that you constantly ask yourself the following questions:
- Is what I am saying truthful and honest? Does it truly reflect who I want to be and what I believe in?
- Am I being judgmental of others or am I being compassionate? Have I put myself in the other side's shoes, and after doing so, do I still believe in what I am defending?
- Am I being consistent in what I am voicing and defending? Have I changed my mind or my opinion? -- It is OK to do so. What we should avoid is arguing for the sake of arguing, specially if we are not convinced of what we are defending.
- Have I educated myself enough on the matter or have had any experience that can gear me towards developing an intelligent opinion? Or is my opinion based on my own personal experiences (unrelated) without much knowledge of what I am speaking about?
- Have I chosen the right words? Our language is powerful, and using derogatory and offensive vocabulary in the heat of the moment, not only creates a terrible impression, but also weakens our argument.
- Do I listen intently? In creating our voice, we need to practice proactive listening. A conversation is not only about what we have to say, it is mostly about being able to listen and responding.
Elements to develop a powerful voice.
In a more practical sense, knowing how to use our actual voice is important when considering the impact we can generate with it. Consider the following elements:
Volume: If we speak very softly, we can project insecurity or ignorance - and if we speak very loudly, we can sound aggressive and abrasive. The ideal volume should be conversational, specially when dealing with confrontational situations. Remain calm and collected and your voice will be the voice of reason.
Speed: Do we talk so fast that we are constantly asked to repeat ourselves? Or do we get interrupted continuously for speaking too slowly? An excellent exercise is to record yourself reading something of interest - by listening we will know how to adjust the time to process the thoughts, lengthen the vowels or cut sentences.
Tone: Why do some messages or instructions get captured in our minds faster than others? The tone that we integrate to what we say allows clarity to the message. A good exercise is to put a pencil between the teeth, parallel to the lips, and repeat our name 10 times. Immediately we improve our tone - and if we integrate the smooth movement of the hands - we improve the rhythm.
Food: It is important to focus on the effect of food on the voice. For example; a lot of lactose, it creates phlegm; many proteins and chewing gum, it causes a hoarse voice and dryness in the throat. Coffee, lemon and alcohol also significantly impact how we listen to each other.
Stress: How relaxed we are, also has a significant effect on our voice. Tension is reflected in the throat and suddenly we sound frightened or like a "robot". A solution; Breathe 10 to 15 times in small amounts to release tension of the voice.
By focusing on our voice, we ensure that we reflect what we want and need - directly contributing to personal and professional success. Develop your voice and celebrate the results.