How many times have you bitten your tongue in a board meeting or muzzled yourself when your boss starts spouting off? How many times have you failed to speak up when you disagree with your business partner? How often have you ignored your intuition and kept your mouth shut because you’re afraid of creating conflict with your clients, colleagues, or superiors?
Oh yeah, baby. I feel you.
Why I Kept My Mouth Shut At Work
When I was a medical student and resident, I felt powerless. The senior physicians in charge of my education were responsible for my grade, whether I got to scrub in on the big surgeries, and whether or not I got to graduate. To appease them, I endured frequent bouts of sexual harassment (like the surgeon who would hand me the suction catheter in the operating room and leer at me while hissing “Suck me good, Lissa. Suck me hard, Lissa.”)
I tolerated what amounted to assault and battery (like the time I came in with the flu and the senior physician shot me up with anti-nausea drugs, made me wear a Depends diaper, and forced me to scrub into the operating room until I passed out, then put me on a gurney, loaded me up with IV fluids and more drugs, and made me scrub back into surgery.) I ignored the orgasmic cries of my bosses having affairs in the call rooms when I needed their advice on patient care.
Most importantly, I kept my mouth shut, like a good little doctor-in-training.
On one level, I was rewarded for doing so. I made good grades. I got good evaluations. And I got a great job after I finished my training.
On another level, I suffered. I wound up with high blood pressure. I got divorced – twice. I had nightmares. I got sick often.
Even When I Had Power, I Kept Quiet
You’d think I’d finally find my voice to speak up once I finished my training, but I was just the junior associate in the group medical practice, so I clammed up when my boss started spouting off when I disagreed. I wanted to get promoted to full partner, where I would finally be rewarded with power and money and influence.
But then I got promoted to full partner, and I still didn’t speak my truth.
I was afraid of rocking the boat, fearful of discord within the partnership, insecure about my own ideas, and committed to avoiding conflict. In my practice, they called me “the glue.” I was the peacemaker. Everyone spoke their truth to me, and then I helped repair rifts.
But throughout the process, I kept my mouth shut.
Finally, I Spoke Up
Then one day, after what I came to call my “Perfect Storm” (I gave birth, my dog died, my brother wound up in liver failure, and my father passed away, all in 2 weeks), I found my voice. No longer was I willing to go quietly into the night. I had something to say – damn it – and by golly, I was going to finally say it.
So I started asking for what I needed at work. I spoke up at our weekly meetings. I expressed my opinions. I stood up for myself and my patients. I used my voice, for the first time – maybe ever.
After mustering up the courage to speak my truth, I got shot down. Nobody heard my voice. I felt powerless. And so I left.
Speaking My Truth
Once I left my job, I began writing books. And I started blogging and writing magazine articles and public speaking. And I’ve been pretty much been shouting my truth from rooftops and stages ever since. I’ve learned that speaking (or shouting) my truth is part of being unapologetically me and that when I speak with love and acceptance my truth can be heard by thousands of people.
While speaking my truth at my old job didn’t effect the changes I wanted, it made it VERY clear to me that I couldn’t stay, which turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me professionally.
Once I left and launched out on my own as an entrepreneur, I discovered that speaking my truth was the golden ticket to success. I successfully attract clients because my clients know I will tell them the truth about their health and their businesses. I have millions of readers at OwningPink.com because I blog my truth. I just got a big phat book deal for my third book because I write my truth. I have hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers and thousand of Facebook friends because I tweet and post my truth. I get invited to be the keynote speaker at conferences because I speak my truth on stage. And corporate sponsors pay me to be a spokesperson for their companies because they know I’ll only support their products if I can speak my truth when I speak out on their behalf.
I now get paid to speak my truth, and it feels AWESOME. Not only do I no longer have the knot in my stomach and lump in my throat from sucking it up and keeping my mouth shut; I also get rewarded for speaking my truth! It turns out that I’m even more powerful when I resist the urge to tone it down or keep quiet about something that’s bothering me. People actually like it when I rant (as I did here and here and here and here).
Once I began speaking my truth, there was no shutting me up. I can’t go back to the way I was. I have a voice, damn it. And you do too.
Are you ready to use it?
Speak Your Truth To Power
My dear friend Dana Theus just launched a fabulous new program aimed at helping you reclaim your authentic voice in business. Whether you’re a solopreneur who wants to speak her truth to clients or you’re employed by a large organization , this program is all about helping you thrive at work by reclaiming your voice.
You’ll learn to speak up, be true to your integrity, and release the fear that keeps you from saying what you really think. You’ll learn how to avoid putting people on the defensive when you speak up. You’ll boost your career by speaking more like a leader than a follower. And if you’re not sure what your truth is, this course will help you tap into that authentic voice we all have so you can project it loud and clear.
Do You Speak Your Truth In Business?
Are you honest and authentic at work? Do you speak up – or do you keep your mouth shut to avoid conflict? What has happened when you told your truth? Tell us your stories.
Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of OwningPink.com, Pink Medicine Revolutionary, motivational speaker, and author of What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.
Learn more about Lissa Rankin here.