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Your voice matters...

As a child, I was terrified to speak up.

I would hide in the back row, hoping the teacher would not call on me. I was afraid that if she did, I would sound stupid or give the wrong answer. This fear came from too many adults in my life who criticized or corrected me in ways that were not constructive.

Unfortunately, this fear carried into my adult life, preventing me from trusting my point of view, sharing my story, singing, and writing. I also have a tendency to use malapropisms in my speech. I am not doing it for the sake of humor, but it's a habit I struggle to break. I've asked trusted peers to kindly bring it to my attention when I misuse a word.

A malapropism is a mistake in the use of a word, usually by 
substituting a similar-sounding word with a completely different meaning. 

Speaking confidently did not come easy for me. Even now, I feel anxious, and I work daily on giving myself grace when I can't find the right word or say something grammatically incorrect. I feel the mistakes.

In a world where we are constantly being called to use our voice, whether it's on social media or in a team meeting, or on a stage, we have a responsibility to lead with kindness and compassion. We must not be too quick to judge or comment without thinking through the impact it may have.

I recently had a TikTok post go viral, and among the hundreds of comments, three stood out. These proclaimed "grammar police" criticized my use of grammar, telling me that I shouldn't be a public speaking coach if I can't be grammatically correct. I said, "You have got to," instead of "should" or "You have to." I almost took down the video that has almost 500K views because I let them get to me.

But then I was reminded that this is precisely why I'm so good at what I do. It's because of my journey, my fumbles, and the shit I'm still working on that make me a coach who can truly relate to my clients. I'm perfectly imperfect. Yes, words have meaning, and grammar matters, but our humanness comes first.

To create safe and brave spaces where people feel comfortable sharing their stories, it's essential to establish clear guidelines, practice active listening, and foster a non-judgmental environment. It's also important to remember that everyone has their own unique journey and may struggle with their confidence to speak up.

By leading with kindness and compassion, we can create a space where everyone feels valued and supported, regardless of their mistakes or imperfections.

Time to make another TikTok :)


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