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a word for speaking your mind

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“I don’t want to make a fuss” was pretty much my motto for a long time. Everyone thought I was “so sweet,” “so easy going,” and “so pleasant.” Those were words people would use to describe me. I didn’t want to disappoint them. I didn’t want to prove them wrong. And you know what you have to be in order to be considered sweet, pleasant, and laid-back? Quiet. You have to be quiet. In other words, you rarely get what you want. Look at the most successful and the happiest people you know. They probably aren’t quiet. Perhaps nobody would describe them as sweet. But the other truth is that they don’t care because they love their lives more than they cherish the approval of others. They do, by the way, still have the approval of others. The group that respects you just changes when you speak your mind. A lot changes, for the better.

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You’ll respect your time more

You’ll no longer put up with people who tell you that they’ll meet with you, “Sometime between 1 and 4ish—I’ll let you know the day of.” You tell them that you need a specific time, as soon as possible, so you can plan your life. And as for individuals who constantly flake on you, you tell them how that has impacted you, and that if they want to keep a relationship with you, that behavior needs to stop. Now.

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You’ll improve your work environment

Does one coworker just chat your ear off? Play her music too loud? Ask for help on tasks that really aren’t your responsibility? You can just tell her. Find a polite way, of course, but suddenly your work environment will be much more tolerable. Think about it: for now, you are the one suffering and accommodating so she can do whatever she wants. You should both have to make some compromises here.

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You’ll handle that neighbor situation

The one who parks too close to you, who fails to lock the lobby door, leaving the building at risk, or whose dog barks all day long while she’s away. Have the landlord paint lines in the parking spots so there’s no more confusion. Tell her to lock the damn lobby door. And ask that she bring the dog to work for her or get a pet sitter because right now, everybody but her listens to him bark all day. You need to feel comfortable in your home. Everybody else in the building sure seems to be making themselves comfortable without thinking of others. Maybe it’s your turn to assert yourself.

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You may make more money

When you begin to speak up, you may make more money. If you feel you’re being low-balled by a client, tell them your bottom line. Tell them what you absolutely must be paid in order to make this work worth it for you. If you feel your job owes you a raise, prepare your reasons why and present them. If you feel you should get more for that car you’re selling, don’t take that low offer. Tell them why it’s worth more.

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You may save more money

You might save more money, too. It could be in little ways. But think of all of the times you’ve eaten a terrible restaurant meal for fear of saying something. Or all of the times you didn’t tell the cashier she failed to punch in the coupon you gave her for that yogurt. Or all the times a vendor didn’t give you the deal they were advertising on their window, due to some bullsh*t, manipulative small print. Speak up and you may get those dollars back.

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You’ll resent friends less

When we don’t speak our minds, we wind up harboring resentment. If you have a friend who you feel talks about herself too much, ditches you for men when she gets drunk, or is selfish about favors (always asking for them but never returning them), say something so she has a chance to remedy it. And maybe she won’t, and you can let her go as a friend. Either way, you release the resentment when you speak up.

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You’ll resent colleagues less

Does somebody bulldoze you for the good projects? Or speak over you in meetings? Or slack off in a way that leaves you with extra work? Again, you hold onto resentment so long as you don’t say anything. This person may surprise you, and fix things if you say something.

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You’ll feel less anxiety

When I was more of a pushover, I had a little lingering anxiety every day. It went away when I started speaking my mind. I realized what it was: I was worried about all the ways someone might walk all over me, at any given moment. Now, I know that if something comes up that I’m displeased about, I’ll just say something. I won’t stand for it. So that anxiety left.

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Dating will become simpler

When I was single, I used to make a lot of excuses for men who did things that bothered me. If a guy cancelled three dates in a row, I’d tell myself he was very busy and I should be understanding. But…pretty much any guy who did things like that wound up being problematic in the end. So I started just letting dudes know in the early stages if their behavior bothered me. Some apologized, said it was a huge misunderstanding, and fixed it. Some told me I was high maintenance. I wished them good riddance.

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Less fear of the phone

When you start speaking your mind, you also stop feeling afraid of your phone. Whoever it is—if it’s someone trying to sell you something, your mom calling with unsolicited criticism about your life, or a friend asking for an unfair favor—you can just say no.

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Your reputation will get better

Your reputation will actually improve. People will talk about you as someone who is confident, assertive, and communicative. Yes, some will say you’re a b*tch—those are just individuals who are pissed that they can’t walk all over you anymore. Everyone knows they are snakes and nobody trusts their opinion anyways.

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People will mess with you less

You know there are individuals just looking to mess with the easiest target in the office, friend group, neighborhood—you name it. They’re running scams. They’re asking for favors they know they shouldn’t. Suddenly, people will be knocking on your door less.

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Get ready for some fall out

Yes, you will lose some people from your life. Get ready for that and don’t let it scare you. Remember that a lot of people liked you for the qualities that you’re now shedding: submissiveness, agreeableness, pleasantness.

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That’s okay: those weren’t your people

The people you lose weren’t your people. They were always going to bring you down. They wanted to take advantage of you and drain you of your energy and time. You’re just rebuilding your tribe, and that will mean getting rid of some members.

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You’ll get more honesty, too

When you start to speak your mind more, others will be more open with you, too. They’ll realize you’re someone who can handle it and who wants an open dialogue. All of your relationships will start to run smoother.

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