A lot of us Asians were brought up taught to be polite, and to keep opinions to ourselves, so as not to create conflict.
The term to give face is Asian origin, which means to treat others with respect, and not to dishonour someone, and that someone includes ourselves. We do not want to lose face, saying something stupid.
We also tend to speak at a quieter voice, avoiding attention invited by louder voice.
Unfortunately, both of these traits make Asians appear too quiet, opinion-less, and boring, to the extent of dumb.
Of course, in reality, we are not dumb, and of course we do have strong opinions about a lot of things, but we Asians prefer to keep them to ourselves, do not feel the necessity to voice it out.
This characteristic is counter productive if we want to create the impression of someone capable and intelligent.
Also, introverts have more difficulty speaking out, as it is not in their nature. Speaking out comes with practice.
Here are some tips:
1. Broaden your knowledge to general topics – news, sports, politics, social issues, etc. Use these topics to do small talk with any random person you meet – the person standing next to you in the shopping queue, the office janitor, your neighbour. Doing small talk helps build confidence.
2. Talk loudly when you are alone. I do this often when I drive home. Learn to speak from the stomach, and not the mouth. Listen to how you sound, the voice, pitch, volume, language. Improve what you feel is necessary.
3. Be active in meetings. Start voicing up smaller, lighter opinions, topics, in order to practice speaking out. When you agree to something, say it out loud, with some short comments. Once you’ve gained more confidence, make attempts to suggest ideas, or ask questions. They may start simple, but your ideas can get bigger once you are more confident.
Do you have other tips on increasing the confidence to speak up? Do share with all of us.