on speaking up

Posted: October 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

In multiple work and social settings, I have been told over and over by coworkers, friends and family that I need to speak up more often.  I have heard it often enough, from enough different corners, that I can only reasonably believe it is good counsel.

Still, part of me objects.  After all…

  • A famous quote for which I cannot find the source says, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”
  • And then there is, “Discretion is the better part of valor,” which also seems related as well.
  • When I was a kid, a lot of my teachers complimented me as, “mature for my age,” and I think most of that was the lack of noise bubbling out of me.
  • When I worked with teens, my willingness to not talk all the time made space for kids to share with me at a deep and personal level.
  • Being quiet has often rescued me from having to choose between truth and peace.
  • With my overachieving nature, often when I DO speak up, others express to me that they “couldn’t compete” with that, or something of the like – in other words, I sometimes have a silencing effect on others by my speech.
  • When I do speak out, often I say more than I meant to, or I go more negative than I should.  I am not proud of this.
  • I am a slow processor, so in a group conversation I am usually still formulating thoughts and words when the group rushes on to the next topic.
  • In my life, I have frequently been not just wrong, but FOOLISHLY so.  Where I have maintained silence, no one had to know how far off base I got, and more importantly, no one has been led astray by my error.
  • Where I rightly or wrongly and probably arrogantly believe that I am wiser/smarter/more knowledgeable than you, I don’t want to be the jerk lording it over you.  Where I think you are wiser/smarter/more knowledgeable than me, I think my silence leaves space for me to learn from you (and not embarrass myself.)
  • Lots of things that seem like a Very Big Deal – an EMERGENCY, even, in the moment – turn out to be of no consequence at all if I just quietly let them go on by without my verbal interference (a.k.a. the answer to “how important is it?” is usually, “not very.”)
  • I’m more sensitive than I want to be or admit re:  others’ words to/about me, and I dread inflicting on anyone else what sometimes is inflicted on me.
  • There is far less editing capability to spoken words than written (I know, I don’t edit MUCH these days, but I always edit at least SOME, at least quickly and cursorily.)
  • I am empathetic to a fault, which means I almost always am seeing so many sides to a story/argument/issue that I don’t have a clear idea exactly where I stand, and I’m not willing to make it up as I go.
  • Because I am so very reluctant to speak up, when I DO, people really stop and listen.  They are not in the habit of glossing over my constant rambling.  Maybe there is someone in your life whose ramblings drive you to gloss over them?  If so, perhaps you hear me here.

Still, A LOT of voices have urged me across the years to speak up more, and I am finally at a place of being willing to consider trying to do so, instead of continuing to quietly disregard that counsel.  Things I will need God’s help with for this include:

  • Speedier and more focused processing, so I can keep pace in conversation.
  • Increased discernment, so I can sift more efficiently through all the input to form output
  • Courage.
  • Confidence.
  • Willingness.
  • Trusting others’ journeys more to Him, and understanding that I’m not really as able to derail others as I fear.
  • More energy – conflict/disagreement exhaust me very, very rapidly.

So!  For now I’m not going to focus much on “trying harder” to speak up, but I AM telling God that I want to fall in line with what He’d like me to do, and I want to surrender my reluctance to the multitude of probably-good-counsel, and I’d like Him to fix it in me or show me what to do. 

He’s faithful to answer those kinds of prayers, for sure…

  1. jdj4himjohn says:

    Guess it all depends on motivation. If I’m quiet because I sense I need to listen, or to let someone vent that’s one thing. If I’m quiet even thought I see something clearly as someone shares and I sense prompting by the Holy Spirit then I have to ask myself if it’s love or fear…because biblically those don’t go together. Just 2 cents worth.

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