Speaking Up for Yourself - IHouse CLG workshop

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Triveni Raghavan
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Written by: Triveni Raghavan

“What does it mean?” asked one of the participants at the CLG Workshop on Speaking Up for Yourself hosted by Seun Bello Olamosu, IHouse where Dr. Gary Glass and Brandon Knettel, Intern, from CAPS made a presentation about communication strategies.

When somebody ‘steps on your toes’ do you just grin and bear it?

Why do you hesitate to speak up?
Cultural Differences and Gender Influences
In American culture, the concept of “self” is valued. People like to talk about their accomplishments, express their emotions and they may not hesitate to challenge authority or just ask for what they need. But other cultures may place more value on humility, being less expressive and respect for authority. Further, lack of clarity about gender roles can make it more complicated.

Racial and Ethnic Discrimination
Sometimes, people may treat you differently because of your racial or ethnic background. Is it “discrimination” based on bias or because they respect differences and want to put you at ease.

Language
If speaking up is difficult, writing could be more so because there are so many things to think of like grammar, spelling mistakes and striking the right balance between sounding passive and assertive.

How can you overcome your inhibitions and speak up?
Understanding Conflict
Conflict can be “A Tool used to improve Relationships”. There is a saying in my country – “Fire can be used to light a lamp or burn down the house”. This is true of conflict too. If it is not used the right way, it can end up hurting everybody.

Confidence
“The enjoyment of what you KNOW to be TRUE about YOU”. And, using that knowledge about you, to manage different situations at work and home.

How Do You Speak Up for Yourself – Effectively / Respectfully?
1.    Assess whether to assert yourself: Evaluate the situation - Is this the right time? What would be the consequences of speaking up or not speaking up?
2.    Identify what you want to assert: Figure out what is wrong with the situation and what is to be done to change it.
3.    Confidence Cycle: Rehearse, Implement, Evaluate, Correct or Adjust as Needed.

Communicate Your Needs
Express your needs using “I” statements like, “I would like it if you” rather than blaming the other person like, “You never do”.

Conflict is a Tool
Use conflict effectively to understand the other person and to help them understand you better.

Coming back to the question asked at the beginning of the workshop, I realized that Dr. Glass had not only answered it but in the process, he had given us a practice lesson in speaking up for ourselves.

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