By SOK RITHEA
The rule is: Speak up and people will consider your ideas, or stay silent and someone will speak out for you, but with their ideas not yours.
If you are still reading this, let me ask you a question. Do you like flowers?
Nice to know that you love flowers because I love them, too. Wow! We have one same interest. Isn’t it amazing?
See? Just assuming you did not answer my question, so I simply answered it for you with what I think. In fact, I can even tell the public that my readers absolutely love flowers. If this were a real case, do you feel comfortable at all letting me doing that? Will you keep silent and let me? Or will you speak up and tell me what you actually think?
This is just one tiny scenario to remind you that when you choose to keep silent, people will do the talking for you, yet they do that with their ideas and for their benefits. People can easily take advantage of your silence by speaking out for you, and then manipulate the public.
Want to keep silent anymore?
Let me share with you my story. Back in university, I majored in English for Professional Communication at the Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL) in the Royal University of Phnom Penh. At the start, I was a silent person. The silent me did not do a lot of talking, both in class and in team discussions.
What’s more, I rarely asked questions. I thought that whatever I said or asked would sound stupid and everybody in the room, the lecturer included, would laugh at me. Usually, when the lecturer finished his explanation, he would ask: “Everybody clear?” One or two students would answer “Yes”. The rest, like thirty or forty students including me, would make no response. The result, the lecturer would just move on or finish his lecture because he assumed that those who did not respond understood the lesson like those who said yes.
A lot of moments similar to this happened. Then, I started to realize it is not fine to stay silent. I started asking questions and sharing my views. Surprisingly, it turned out that no one laughed at me. Actually, many of my classmates wanted to ask or say the exact same thing. Plus, the lecturer was pleased about my sharing as much as he was pleased in explaining the lesson again.
I had come to the conclusion that if I don’t make my voice heard when I should, there will only be negative consequences for me in the end. The silent me will end up suffering from doing things I don’t like or accepting things I don’t agree with. I need to change, and I am changing.
I said “changing” because I am still work-in-progress. I have finished my university studies for around one year now, and I have roughly four years of working experience. And yes, I am still changing. I have worked in many fields and met quite a lot of people. However, whenever I enter an unfamiliar environment or meet new people, I become the silent me again, just like the boy who was just starting university.
I find myself often agreeing with people even if, deep in my mind, I do not. Sometimes, I would refuse to make suggestions or present my ideas when I really shouldn’t refuse to. Maybe it is because of my extreme shyness to the new environment and my overthinking. Again, I remind myself not to stay silent, and it always takes me a while to get fully motivated to speak out. I continuously encourage myself to speak up whenever I should.
I start to make my voice heard by raising my ideas, showing my reasons, and making rejections when I’d like to. The result of this change is that I can see my ideas more clearly when they are up for discussion. When I speak up, I don’t intend to get all of my ideas put into practice. It’s just that because the work involves me and may affect me, I think I should be part of the discussion and put my ideas on the table just like everybody else does.
With my experience, I can confidently tell you that, as long as you are being reasonable and respectful, people will consider your ideas, so why not speak up? Everybody’s ideas deserve to be heard.
By pushing myself to voice my thoughts, I am improving myself. Joining Voices of Youth, a blogging training program operated by UNICEF, is part of my improvement process. In short, one of the reasons I joined this program is to seek professional instruction on how to produce great writing for blogging. This will be one more way for me to make my voice heard.
I decided to talk about speaking up and staying silent in this self-introduction article because the effects from these two things have taught me a lot. In some ways, they have shaped how I think and do things, including my working and communication styles.
I hope this will give you some ideas about who I am. If you are experiencing having to do things you do not like because you are too shy to speak your mind, I hope my story will give you some positive power and motivation to be strong enough to express your ideas when you need to.
So now, let me ask you again, do you like flowers?
I hope I can get your answer this time. Please tell me more about your thoughts by dropping them down in the comments!
Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.