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5 steps to help you speak your mind

<p>Whether it’s at work, with friends, or with your family, saying what you really think often sounds like a bad idea. But holding back from telling people what’s going on in your head can also cause problems, as you are bottling up your emotions and never letting them out.</p> <p>So how do you speak your mind in a way that gets your point across, without hurting people’s feelings or alienating them?</p> <p><strong>Try to remove the emotion</strong></p> <p>This can be tough, but avoid crying or yelling (if you can!) and speak in a calm, clear manner. You are much more likely to get your point across if people can understand you and see that you are talking from a level head. When you act calm, even if you’re not, it makes other people see you as more confident. Shouting often has the opposite effect, as people can begin to tune out to what you are saying. You could try something like ‘I can see that your new girlfriend makes you happy. However I feel that you may be moving too quickly, and I don’t think you should have to stop seeing your friends just because you are dating somebody.’</p> <p><strong>Use positive words</strong></p> <p>Try to steer clear of extremes like ‘You always…’ or ‘I never…’ Instead, focus on what you would like to happen, and be specific. So instead of ‘You only want to see me when you need me to babysit your children’ you could say ‘I would like to spend one afternoon a week together just the two of us, doing something special.’</p> <p><strong>Explain both sides</strong></p> <p>It’s easy to get caught up with ‘I’ and ‘me’ when you are getting your point across, but thinking of the other person’s perspective can be very useful for being heard. People naturally think ‘What’s in it for me? Why should I listen to this?’ so tailor your argument towards that. So instead of ‘I think you work too much’ you could say ‘I’m worried that your hours are too long and you are going to get burnt out. We don’t see each other as often as we used to, and I miss spending time with you. How can I help you to see that money isn’t everything?’</p> <p><strong>Ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen</strong></p> <p>At first you may be too worried about the ‘what ifs’ of speaking your mind. But ask yourself, honestly, what is the very worst thing that could happen if you do? Sure, people might initially feel upset or hurt if what you’re saying hits a nerve, but in the long run most would understand that you were saying how you felt so that you could make things better.</p> <p><strong>Accept that it may not be worth it</strong></p> <p>Sometimes you have to choose your battles, so if you know that speaking your mind will only cause ill-feeling and no good will come of it – let it go. Some things are not worth losing a friend over (like bad lipstick choices) whereas other things are too important to hold in (like issues with drugs or gambling).  A good way to decide whether to speak up is to think ‘will anything change if I speak up?’ If not, perhaps let it slide.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>


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