How to Use Your Voice & Actually Make a Difference
Our voice is a powerful tool that we carry with us wherever we go. We use our voices to express ourselves, to communicate with others, and to question and understand the world as we participate in it. While mainstream society may not encourage us to do so, we also use our voices to state our beliefs and to stand up for them.
But how will you know when to speak up? There is a defining line between being high strung and too quick to act, completely led by immediate emotions – and being the volcano who sits back and smiles, letting it all build up until a major explosion. Neither way of communicating is balanced and if you want to make a real shift in the way the world works, you must find balance.
We’ve compiled some ways to check yourself- to see if you might be wearing a mask or you’re showing up complacent as you speak. Use these tips as reminders as you carry on with your day:
1. Preaching to the choir will only get you so far
It is wonderful to be passionate about your cause and you might totally get a buzz from connecting with all the others who really agree with you too. Feeding off of each other’s zesty enthusiasm is what kindles the fire so by all means: chat, collaborate, brainstorm, and congregate with your like-minded friends! However, be careful not to limit your talks to this already in-the-know circle. These people are already on your team, so trying to win them over all the time is only self-serving.
When you are speaking up for something, you are using your voice as a vehicle to help others reach an understanding. Your energy can instead be focused on those who are curious about shifting their perspective but want to learn more. Whether you feel shy or not, stray from your comfortable circle in order to find others who are likely not on the same exact path as you. Sometimes this is your friends from college or your family, sometimes it isn’t. Mutually, you will both have a clearer understanding of where your ideas are rooted and experience empathy.
2. Advocating for Others
Taking care of yourself first allows you to give the best version of yourself to others when you are ready to serve. So, speak up for yourself and teach others how to treat you. Sometimes we believe that we have to settle for less in order to do good for others. This isn’t true, by asking for what you need, you will be setting yourself up for success in clearing your own way in order to carry forth and help others.
What about the groups that can’t speak up for themselves, or need a humble ally to get the message through? For example, animals and their habitats need somebody to speak for them (so the Lorax speaks for the trees!). Without the bridge of human advocacy, other humans just might continue to destroy the planet and cause species extinction. Similarly, men can be wonderful allies to women when it comes to shifting societal norms and the patriarchy. When men treat women with respect, they are leading by example and other men then follow suit.
The more you give, the more you receive so you may be shocked to find how rewarding it is to stand up to others who are different than you. Try it on and see what happens.
3. Be assertive, but not confrontational
Don’t be the bystander. It is perfectly OK to call somebody out on their destructive behavior. Which do you value more: respect found for a cause you deeply care about, or making yourself uncomfortable by temporarily stepping into the limelight?
For example, say you are enjoying a weekend of camping in a beautiful natural setting with some friends. You are gathering around a late night bonfire to share the warmth, roast dinner, and practice music. Your neighboring campers have sparked a bonfire, too, but you notice they are treating the earth like a trashcan! Your friends want to let it be and have a carefree fun time… but you know the overall situation would be better if you said something.
Of course your neighbors should know better, but obviously they need a reminder. Instead of showing quick anger, approach your neighbors with friendly conversation; you know you already have the love of camping in common. Talk about tips and tricks, and the animals found in the area. Make your neighbors understand that they could attract these animals to their camp or even hurt them by leaving trash out.
First and foremost, communicate respectively. The fastest way to put up walls is to make somebody feel like you are attacking them. Remember that you are speaking up in order to guide the moral compass back on its rightful path, in order for others to understand your truth, you will have to make them want to listen. Make your concern about the issue at hand rather than irritation toward a specific person or group. Getting down to earth with your disagreeable counterpart will level out a safe space to communicate a solution.
Play a diplomatic role. Your understanding nature from the get go will open the door for their own listening ears.
Decide what it is that you hope to come to terms with.
Is there anything at all that you can agree on?
4. Actions speak louder than words
If you want your truth to really be heard, you’ve got to walk to the talk, too. You can sing your heart out for days, and you may really effectively inspire somebody to “do something about it.” But you can take action too, and as a leader every step can feel monumental. Volunteering is the best way to invest your time in a cause you really believe in. For example, you can gather people together in your community to share ideas AND to take action. Start with a team talk to spread awareness and set intention, and then move on to take action and volunteer for a related local organization.
Other times, we might not even be aware of a situation until after it’s already happened. For example, you might cruise up to the beach for a sunny, relaxing afternoon to find that the shore is littered with trash! Now you have the opportunity to speak up for the environment through your actions and clean it up. It might feel like a jab to be cleaning up somebody else’s carelessness, but this is your moment to exercise your truth that the environment should be healthy and respected. An added benefit is that somebody might see your actions and become inspired – or even join in!
We have created just that group for those who want to be the change they wish to see in the world. Our intimate group of passionate people connect via phone twice a month to stay focused on our goals. The Changemakers Collaborative is a monthly program for accountability, collaboration and opportunity. Following our curriculum, The Changemakers Journey we run through our 10 step process towards holistic leadership and entrepreneurship. The program offers tools, connections, guidance and a community platform for personal and professional growth. This is one way to empower yourself to be the change you wish to see in the world and stick to your goals.
If we have a passion in our hearts to make the world a better place, we can’t do it alone. We need community, clarity of vision and discipline. We can be the change we wish to see in the world and live beautiful and blissful lives but the it requires focus. With a clear plan, goals, accountability and ambition, anything can be accomplished.