Have you ever found yourself fantasizing about that conversation you want to have with your boss (or partner, or client, or staff)? The REAL conversation you want to have? The one where you are completely honest and say all those things you have only whispered under your breath?
As attorneys, we are hired to advocate for our clients–why do we struggle to advocate for ourselves?
During our lives…
We learn to walk.
We learn to ride bicycles.
We learn to cook for ourselves.
We learn how to navigate new cities.
Our lives contain so many examples of how we have overcome failure to learn new things. Babies fall repeatedly as they learn how to walk. We all had a few bumps and bruises as we learn how to ride a bike without training wheels. I conducted numerous pathetic and indigestible kitchen experiments whilst learning how to cook like my mom. I nearly died the first time I drove in a big city.
When I was in high school, I moved to the state capital to work as a page in the House of Representatives. It was the first time I had lived on my own and the first time I had to learn how to navigate a big city. I remember the first few times I made a wrong turn onto downtown one way streets. Where I came from, we didn’t have one way streets! We barely even had stoplights! I wasn’t used to paying attention to those things and I quickly learned all the new rules that come with inner city driving. I didn’t give up and decide living in the city wasn’t for me. I just did it. I kept trying and learning and not letting the fear about dying in a fiery car crash keep me stuck.
But isn’t everything else in life the same way?
I often find that my clients want to stand up for themselves and advocate for what they want–better balance, more flexibility, different work, a different supervisor, etc. They struggle to work up the courage to show up and ask for what they want because it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes, it’s because they’ve had bad experiences in the past where their honest requests were met with criticism. Whatever the case may be, they struggle with the discomfort of not being good at using their voice in an authentic and vulnerable way.
What we fail to see is that we are not going to be “good” at using our voices right out of the gate.
We are going to make some wrong turns and have some experiences that might feel like driving into oncoming traffic. But that doesn’t mean we have failed. It simply means we are learning something new.
Today, commit to using your voice in a way that is authentic to you–ask for what you want, say what you mean, say “no” when you want to.
It’s not going to feel good.
You’re going to be uncomfortable.
With practice, it will get easier.
Allow yourself opportunities to learn and fine tune that skill so that in the future, when it really matters, you won’t hesitate because it will be as natural as riding a bike (or navigating one way streets).
One of the things I do with my clients is develop a plan and strategize around asking for what they want. We experiment and practice with different methods until we find an approach that works best for them. If you struggle to say “no” or ask for what you really want, invest in developing that talent. Work with me and start living in your voice (schedule a free consultation now and reconnect with your voice and your power).