Each of us has an influence and ability to ‘speak your mind’ on what is right. When we avoid controversial subjects because we’re afraid of getting into an upsetting situation, we turn our backs on this influence. Which means we violate one of the tenets of being a better person: “use your power for good”.
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Embrace your Influence
I’m not suggesting that you should wade into waters where you don’t feel safe. But I am suggesting that there are many areas where you can use your voice to help elevate a conversation and raise other people’s consciousness about the things you care about. After all, part of the reason that we’ve gotten to this point is that we’ve gotten separated into our own bubbles, where we can choose to only expose ourselves to points of view that corroborate our own. And it’s forcing us in to an us vs. them dynamic.
This is something I’ve really had to build my muscles around, because as I mentioned in Monday’s episode, as a conflict averse person I have a deep drive to avoid anything that could disrupt the peace and lead to confrontation. But you don’t have to turn all your social media accounts and every conversation into your soapbox. You don’t have to become a warrior for the things you care about if you’re just not a tip of the spear-type person to speak your mind.
You just have to embrace the fact that no matter how many followers you have on Facebook or Instagram, we are all influencers on the people we’re in contact with in real life and online. So long as you can avoid sharing things in a way that makes other people feel like you’re saying that they are wrong or a bad person for thinking the way they do, you can help open people’s minds to points of view that they might not otherwise encounter or entertain. And we need that right now. Big time.
Speak your Mind:
The places where your speak your mind will make a difference might only have a very small audience, like your dinner table, or in a one-on-one conversation with a relative or old friend. Whatever that sphere is for you, I’m here to encourage you to share your point of view, because we all need objectivity and sometimes being pushed to evolve our beliefs. If we all keep quiet on controversial subjects that means that the people who shout the loudest will have the biggest influence, and that’s not likely to be the most measured input.
Daily Tiny Assignment:
Your tiny assignment is to challenge yourself to speak your mind and share your point of view on something with someone you trust, especially on something where you might otherwise stay quiet. Maybe it’s an article you share on social media and you offer your take. Or a book that really helped open your eyes to something that you feel has made you a better person that you review on Good Reads, or suggest to a friend, or to your book group. It might feel a little scary but it’s just a natural reaction to doing something new. You will get more comfortable with it over time.
Be sure and come back tomorrow when I’m giving you four phrases you can stick in your back pocket that are helpful when you stumble into a heated conversation with someone. And tune in on Friday too when I’m interviewing Sheila Heen, author of Difficult Conversations and a 20 year member of the Harvard Negotiation Project for her best tips on finding middle ground during tense talks, including what to do if the thing you’re wanting to influence someone you care about on involves either what you perceive to be overt racism or their implicit bias.