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January 31, 2017 0

By Jennifer S. Wilkov, Founder, Speak Up Women Conference

I often hear from women who tell me that they need to speak up to someone about a particular situation or feelings they have but they are not sure how to do it.

Years ago, someone in their lives probably said to them, “Use your words!” It was most likely a parent or adult who was coaxing them as an infant to use words to indicate what they wanted instead of crying or pointing and making noises.

Today, there isn’t someone who is telling them to use their words. In fact, they just might be having the opposite experience where someone may be telling them not to use them.

This happens in personal, professional and philanthropic or for-a-cause situations. You may find yourself uncomfortable and in a position where you are not sure what to say or how to speak up.

Here are some suggestions for some of these types of situations to help you get started:

PERSONAL

When it comes to having a difficult conversation with a loved one or friend, it is often best to ask the person for a dedicated time to talk with them first. Then you can set some rules of engagement for the conversation you would like to have. I often use the “heart to heart conversation” model with those I love and care about. It includes an upfront verbal agreement that each person will be given the opportunity to speak uninterrupted until they are complete. Then the other person receiving the communication will simply say “thank you.” Then you switch roles until you are both done saying everything you want to say. At the end of these conversations, it is also nice to hug one another and thank each other for the productive, respectful conversation. It is much better than arguing or fighting or talking over one another so no one can hear what the other person is saying. You will also come out of it feeling good about one another and feel heard.

PROFESSIONAL

If your situation involves one individual, outline the talking points you want to make and what outcome you want from the conversation. Make an appointment with the person so you have their undivided attention. Be realistic about the time you have with this person and be effective and efficient with the communication you use. Be sure to establish upfront what you want to talk about, why you want to talk about it, and what result you hope will come out of the conversation. The clearer you are upfront, the better conversation you will have. Introduce your topic and do your very best to stick to your talking points and the reason you want to have the conversation. If the discussion diverts to another topic, do your best to bring it back to your agenda and intention.

If you are in a meeting with others, indicate that you want to say something to the person leading the meeting. Do not raise your hand. Be clear about the point you want to make and be concise in your communication about it.

One other point: Do not apologize for speaking or for what you have to say. Be confident and say what you want to with competence and respect. Be a good listener to those who respond and be open to collaborative solutions as well as if someone says no to something you are requesting. Be engaged and make your point with clarity and conviction.

PHILANTHROPIC

When you feel compelled to speak to others about a cause you care about, it is important to be clear about what the cause is. If you have a particular interest, ask others how you can get involved and what organizations or associations they know of that make efforts for it. If you want to start a new group, first define what the group is for, what it focuses on, and how you want other people to participate. This could be anything from a lemonade stand to support someone you know with cancer or another ailment or an effort to collect food for the homeless.

POLITICAL PROCESS

Regardless of what side of the aisle you are on, you can participate and speak up in the political dialogue that continues to rage in the U.S. right now. The best way to speak up is to find out who your Congress representatives are and put their numbers into your phones on speed dial. You can use the website www.CallMyCongress.com to find out who your senators and House representative(s) are along with their phone numbers, Twitter handles, party affiliation and voting record. Congressional offices record the phone calls that come in each day and the topics you call about. This is the fastest and best way to speak up to your representatives in Congress about your personal feelings and advocate for what you want them to do. They are in office to represent their constituents like you so you are supposed to call them to let them know what is important to you and what you want them to do.

Disclaimer: Speak Up Women is a non-partisan community that encourages those with opinions and feelings on all sides of all conversations to respectfully communicate with one another in a meaningful dialogue.

If you are not sure where to begin, take the first step in faith and do your best. The more you speak up, the more comfortable you will be with doing it and the more you will learn to do it in ways that feel good for you.

You never know how and when your opinion and feelings may inform others until you speak up. The impact you have may not just be for you; it may affect many others you may not even know about.

So Speak Up!

 


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January 24, 2017 0

Speak Up Women - Speak Up: The First Amendment - Let All Voices Be Heard

By Jennifer S. Wilkov, Founder, Speak Up Women Conference 

Following the Women’s March on Washington this past weekend, many women were asking the question, “What’s next?” Others were asking, “Why did the march happen?” and still others were wondering whether they could even speak up, much less march.

I encourage you to take a moment to understand for yourself why you marched or didn’t march or didn’t understand the march. What was it about it that stirred you, disturbed you, or even scared you?

Marches like this one, albeit this one was historic in numbers and nature, are really about the 1st Amendment and our rights under it. If you haven’t read it in a while, it clearly states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

While I understand that maybe you haven’t seen this in writing since one of yours or your children’s social studies classes in school, it is important to familiarize yourself with it again in the wake of what is happening in our nation.

Whatever your opinions, feelings and thoughts are about the variety of issues, topics and areas being raised in our national discourse, the truth is your words matter and they deserve to be heard.

The efforts to suppress someone’s voice because they don’t agree with you only stifles the very dialogue we need to have in order to better understand one another and the lives we want to live. It goes beyond bullying. It blocks the discourse that leads to peace.

Speaking up requires courage and effort. It is something that breeds fear in the hearts of women and men in many cases because these people have been shut down and shut up for years, causing them to question the very value of their own feelings and opinions.

In order to take on conversations, whether political, in the workplace, in your home and with friends, or even for a cause you believe in and want to do something about, you are going to have speak up, use your words, and express yourself. This is not something to be taken lightly by anyone, and it should be respected by everyone when someone does it.

Speaking up is a skill everyone has and has the right to. It is how we dialogue about our respective feelings. We are not all going to agree on every point. It is how our species works and communicates and conveys our varying views. It also how we learn about one another and understand that it is okay to disagree. It is how we find out what we value individually and what we feel is right for each of us.

If we cannot allow others to speak up and express themselves, then we are not going to get any further than we are now. Bickering is not a solution. It is a stalemate. It blocks the path forward in any discourse.

Speak up! Don’t be afraid to talk about what is important to you. Share it with everyone you know. Allow others around you to do the same. Give it a try and see what you hear. It is not about disagreeing and becoming disgruntled. It is about allowing the dialogue to continue and the discourse to move forward.

You never know how and when your opinion and feelings may inform others until you speak up. The impact you have may not just be for you, it may affect many others you may not even know about.

So Speak Up!


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January 16, 2017 0

 

By Jennifer S. Wilkov, Founder, Speak Up Women Conference

When I was a kid, I was raised singing the song “This Land Is Your Land”, which was written by Woody Guthrie a couple of decades before I was born. By the time I learned it and sang along, there were multiple versions and covers made of it from popular singers like Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seeger (whom I loved listening to), and even Bob Dylan and later on Bruce Springsteen.

As the song lyrics say, this land is your land, this land is my land.

Well, I say to you that if this land really IS your land and if this land really IS my land, then we are all going to need to speak up about what that really means to each of us and what we want our land to be like and how we want it to be treated.

Recently, amidst the climate of conversations in the United States, there have been many a subject matter that each of us perhaps has something about it that we want to say. Whether it is about the aftermath of the U.S. Presidential election to the standoff at Standing Rock or our economy or even the football teams heading to the Super Bowl in a few weeks, it seems like the roar of voices expressing their opinions and feelings is growing louder.

To me, this is a good thing!

Speaking up leads to dialogues about issues we feel are near and dear to us in our personal, professional and philanthropic lives. Some issues are directly related to us individually; others affect others and we care enough about them to stand up and speak up to express our dissatisfaction or concerns related to them.

Just like in the days of the , we are finding ourselves as a community rising up with our varying voices to express what we want and what we want for those around us, including our children, business colleagues, friends and neighbors.

Without this effort to speak up, the lives we want to live would not be possible because we would be relying on others to cast the die for us, leaving us to live in the wake of what they decided was best for us.

Only you can tell someone what is best for you and how you feel. Only you can inform people and let them know what is important to you. If you don’t, how will they know? After all, they can’t read your mind. If you don’t express yourself, your voice cannot be heard and the life you want cannot manifest the way you want it to.

When I sang “this land is your land, this land is my land” as a little girl, it was a great song. I knew all the words and smiled a big smile when I sang it. I loved its lyrics about the Redwood Forest to the Gulfstream waters and endless skyway above me and the golden valley below me. I felt like it was about my country and where I lived – and I felt good about it.

These days, the words to the song are the same, but the title of the song means something more to me. It is my land and it is your land. It is a land where we are fortunate to be allowed to speak up and tell the people in our lives what we want and what lives we want to live. We are fortunate and blessed to live in such a land.

It will take all of us speaking up to help guide us forward and create the land we want going forward.

I invite you today and everyday to speak up for the life you want and make this land YOUR LAND.

Speak Up!

 


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January 10, 2017 0

By Jennifer S. Wilkov, Founder, Speak Up Women Conference

Speak Up About Your Dreams
Speak Up About Your Dreams

As we approach the 49th anniversary of the loss of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this year and his birthday in which we honor and remember him, we are reminded of the great dreams he had for our nation and our communities.

He stated in no uncertain terms that he had a dream and he used his words so eloquently to convey his vision of what he wanted for all peoples, for all human beings.

At this time of year, what with New Year’s resolutions and a time for renewed hopes and dreams, I ask you: what are your dreams?

In today’s world, you will need to use your words, just as Dr. King did so many years ago, and tell others what you want and what you envision.

You see, it is not enough to just have dreams. If you keep them to yourself, you will only have yourself to rely on to make them come true.

If you have the courage, boldness and grace to share your dreams with others, others will support you in the highest and best ways they can to help you realize them.

When you speak up about your dreams, you have a better chance of making them come true and manifest. It is how it works, you see. We make more things happen as a community, as a group of people who share a common vision of that dream.

If you had to complete the statement Dr. King used so many years ago, how would you say this:

I HAVE A DREAM THAT….. 

This is something we love to talk about in our society. Dreams.

At the end of the movie, Pretty Woman, a man on the street walks by and says, “This is Hollywood! Some dreams come true. Some don’t. — What’s your dream?”

So as we celebrate all that Dr. King stood for and illustrated for all of us, regardless of color, age or gender, I ask you the same question: What’s your dream?

Speak up and share it with everyone you know. You never know how and where help will come until you speak up.


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January 4, 2017 0

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By Jennifer S. Wilkov, Founder, Speak Up Women Conference

Your voice is one of your biggest assets. It informs others. It expresses desire, hope, fear, happiness, sadness and other emotions. More importantly, it tells people who you are and what you want.

When an individual speaks up, things change. This is universal. This is how change happens. When we open up our great big beautiful mouths and start speaking to others, change occurs for us and for all those whose lives we touch – whether it’s your daughter, neighbor, business colleague, friend, intimate partner or even a stranger you meet for a moment and then may never see again.

It’s time for women everywhere to speak up — whether it’s in the corporate world, the non-profit sector, as a small business owner or brand new entrepreneur with a great idea, or as a mom who wants to break back in to the adult world to do something great.

Teenagers are discovering the world around them and who they are. They fear speaking up in an environment where they are often not in a position of authority. What would change if they spoke up about what they saw and what they wanted? What could change if this dialogue occurred? What could they create in the world to make it a better place locally and globally?

Isn’t it your time as a teenager to speak up?!

20-year-olds are finding themselves and understanding who they are in the larger global world outside their homes and college experiences. They are establishing themselves in the corporate and non-profit worlds or opening up businesses where they see others not being served in the way they think they should. They seek out opportunities where they can feel fulfilled and create an identity they can be proud of.

Isn’t it your time as a 20-something to speak up?! What would change for you and all those you see around you if you did?

What’s holding you back?

30-year-olds are often finding themselves in relationships of all kinds – personal, romantic, parental, professional – where they may or may not speak up about what’s important to them, what fulfills them and how they want to live their lives. Imagine if they spoke up about what’s important to them and sought out and ask for help in the areas where they felt they could contribute and make life better for themselves and everyone on the planet.

When will it be your time to speak up in your 30s?!

40-year-olds experience change physically and perhaps in other areas of their lives. What was important to them in their 30s may change and their focus in life may change too. Who’s going to know what’s changed for you if you don’t tell anyone? When will you use that great big beautiful voice of yours and inform others of who you are today, what you want to do, what career you really want, and what life you really want to live?

When will it be just the right time to speak up in your 40s?!

50-year-olds have seen a lot and still have a ton of spark and spirit in them to run after what they want and create the life they said they’ve wanted for years. They’ve seen more than a half century of society, professional industries, politics and personal experiences.

Now is it time to speak up – in your 50s?!

60-year-olds are certainly not “retiring” but instead reinvigorating their lives and dreams. They are far from stopping but often don’t want to feel like they’re imposing on others for their place in the world as a new senior citizen. They are vibrant and often wondering if they could still create that cool entrepreneurial idea they once had when they were younger.

When will it be time to speak up – in your 60s?!

70-year-olds continue to be actively engaged in the lives they have and often wonder what’s next for them. Can you actually start something new in your 70s and beyond?

YES! If you are willing to speak up, any age is a great time to start something new, create new relationships, find new opportunities that serve your soul and others, locally and globally, and make change happen.

Big or small, speaking up makes a difference for everyone – especially you!

No matter how old or young you are, it’s always the right time to speak up.
If you don’t, how will things change? How will you contribute to the change that inevitably happens around you? How many lives can you make just a little bit better by speaking up?

ISN’T IT YOUR TIME TO SPEAK UP?!

 

Join us for the next Speak Up Women Conference which will be held at the United Nations on Friday, March 3rd, 2017. Save the Date! Don’t miss out on this elite experience to learn how to create change where change is necessary in your life and why using your words and speaking up is the key to everything you want.