I admire those who speak their mind. It speaks to their confidence and tells me they deem me worthy of engaging in a conversation with them because the conversation will be two-way. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work. What I don’t like is those who deliver their opinion with a mission to conversion, and I’m sure we’ve all come up against these individuals!

Every encounter we have, every person we meet presents an opportunity for us to expand our mind. I love spending time with someone who has a different view of things, a twist on the typical opinion, an educated opinion that is, and that education can be from books or life, and both are valuable.

Now I might not necessarily agree with the opinion of another but I respect their right to express it as long as the exchange is reciprocal. I’ll hear you out with an open mind because I’m open to ‘possibilities’ – who knows, maybe you’ll teach me something I hadn’t considered before and change my way of thinking. There’s also the possibility that I’ll walk away shaking my head and thinking you’re nuts. When you speak your mind, you take a chance to enlighten another, possibly effecting change. When you stay silent you take no chance and effect no change, and that is a missed opportunity.

To speak up is to express an opinion freely with confidence and without expectation; you are seeking to educate for the benefit of another and without personal gain. One who is outspoken on the other hand, is candid, forthright and relentless, often considered the know-it-all, and with the goal of convincing another to change their opinion for the benefit of their own ego, i.e. they are on a mission to recruit followers. Personally, I’ve been accused of both and while I acknowledge I may be unwittingly outspoken, I have never been so with the goal of converting another to my way of thinking. It’s too much work and simply doesn’t interest me. (Maybe I’m lazy or lack the confidence?) I do, however, believe there is a very fine line between the two, one that is easy to cross. (give me a topic I’m comfortable with and a pulpit and I could go on for hours!)

There have been times when I’ve had to extricate myself from a conversation because the ‘sales pitch’ was too exhausting. The individual simply wouldn’t let up because they could see I wasn’t ‘sold’ yet and they can’t move on to their next victim until they’ve convinced you to join their cause. These people are easy to spot – by the end of the evening they’re usually alone.

And at some point in our lives we have all been the outspoken one; preaching what we think we are knowledgeable on, and determined to convert our listeners. Neither role is offensive really, just human. We simply want to periodically exert our expertise for the benefit of our self-confidence, or maybe for the benefit of another’s self-confidence, or maybe just to effect change where we think it is needed, and that’s never bad.

Don’t be afraid to speak up. (I’m not) You might lose something good, but you may well gain something even better, so if you want to effect change speak up, otherwise be happy with life as it is…..quiet and boring.


2 thoughts on “Speak up or shut up

  1. Amen. And what perfect timing for this excellent reminder as we enter the season of too many voices vying for the mic… and few if any listening. Wonderfully stated, Emily, thank you! And happy hols to you and yours!


  2. Isn’t listening just as important. Being a good listener helps make for a good conversation. It can help the speaker be consistent in their logic and thread if we listen closely to their story and then able to engage in balanced conversation. Speaking up with friends and acquaintances is good confidence building. It helps keep relationships balanced. We chose our friends often because they help us be better people. Good conversation sure helps that process.


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