The world came to a screeching halt as all eyes turned on me and I turned beet red. “Is she supposed to sing that loud?” My worst junior high fears were coming true in the middle of the music room. My voice was too much. Our teacher disagreed with my classmate and we moved on, but I took note:
Don’t stand out or someone might call you out, Andrea.
Indeed, they may. This very point is one reason why I struggle so much with figuring out what to say and how to say it and why it took me so long to start writing. But here I am. I’m sure it means that eventually I’ll be called out for one thing or another. But I’m at a point that I’d rather speak up for others than hide from them.
I wonder if the possibility of getting called out is why so many people hold back when they have something real to say in conversation? It seems safer to blend in unnoticed than go “off-script” and say something that questions the status quo and makes people think. Maybe we all have a tendency to get stuck in the unofficial script written by the tribe around us. It’s nice to have social norms to help us know how to interact with others, but there are times those norms become a cover for the real voice inside.
Perhaps when someone asks how are you, you say “fine.” But what if you’re not fine?
Maybe when you tell someone you are struggling, you say “but God is good.” But what if your heart really isn’t sure of God’s goodness in the midst of your brutal struggle?
What about the times when someone gives you a compliment and you say you’re “no big deal?” What if you really are a big deal and saying you’re not is saying your friend doesn’t know what they’re talking about?
I know a lot of amazing people. If I’ve met you, you’re one of them. (If I haven’t, I hope to get the privilege someday.) And each of these amazing people are way more amazing when they use the voice of their hearts instead of simply saying what they’re supposed to say.
I know a lot of people who are quiet. I love those people. They seem to have wisdom I long to hear. Quiet wisdom is powerful, but there is a difference between quiet and silent. Many people have great things to say but hold back because they are afraid of standing out for fear that they might be called out for rocking the boat or upsetting someone else.
It’s hard to know when to go off script, but I would like to suggest a few times when it’s good to say what’s on your heart. Find “Words To Say” that go with these situations by subscribing to my weekly email “Voice Lessons”.
If you want to connect with others and nourish their souls, try going off-script in these situations:
- When you see someone who is struggling. Imagine what it’s like to be in their situation. What might touch your heart in such a moment? Don’t worry about inflicting pain, they’re already in pain. What if you were the friend who let them release their pain in your presence without hushing them? Connecting with you in such a moment has more potential to stir life in them than advice or hushing.
- When someone puts you on the spot, the temptation is to immediately agree with whatever they say. Why? Probably because we don’t want to cause waves or appear confused or weak in the moment when we don’t know what to do. But you do not need to give people immediate answers. Most of the time it is best to put space between the conversation and your response when you feel caught off guard.
- When someone gets upset with you. I hate it when people get upset with me because their disapproval makes me feel like I’m worthless. Sometimes we fight back. Sometimes we silently seethe. But there is another way. You can own your mistakes. You can question the other person’s response. You don’t have to say whatever the other person hopes you’ll say.
- When someone starts gossiping. You do not have to participate in gossip. I realize that it is difficult to back out of conversations like this without judging or making others feel uncomfortable, but you can do it. You don’t have to nod your head and agree. You don’t have to laugh. You can smile and redirect the conversation. You can.
- When you feel annoyed. I know. It’s tempting to lash out or be passive aggressive when you feel annoyed. Me too. But we don’t have to react to others with anger. We can ask ourselves what is making us sad in this moment – because if we’re angry, there’s most likely sadness under that anger. So dig a little. What life-giving words could you say?
I realize that going off-script in these moments can be really difficult. That’s why I created a little list of things you could say in each of these instances called, “Words To Say: 25 Sayings for Awkward Moments.” You can have this pdf to print or keep on your computer or phone, along with a weekly email from me offering resources and inspiration to help us communicate in life-giving ways that make deep impact. Find it by clicking here: Words To Say.
Please share this post with others who might be interested. I am hoping to give another 30 copies away this week. I will have more to share very soon!