As someone who struggled in speech therapy as a child, I can tell you have magical it is to have someone who teaches you how to properly use your voice. This is why I am so thrilled to be introducing you to my dear friend, Shulie Gibson. Shulie is a speech coach that I met through my trip on Remote Year. Throughout our year, she shared workshops and lessons on how to have hard conversations and I am thrilled to be sharing her advice with you today.
Like many of us, Shulie has a story of overcoming fear to be where she is today. She calls this her “Fear to Freedom” journey. Check out the interview below for the full story!
One of the part of Shulie’s story that I really related to was when she said said she was “ticking off boxes” in her life but at the same time, she felt a lot of pressure to perform. She was outwardly presenting herself as “the good girl,” but deep down, she had a lot of fear about not being good enough. When she made the decision to leap into freedom, she faced questions and doubt from others as she began the plans to sell her house to travel the world on Remote Year.
While the personal development journey can be lonely, Shulie did celebrate having close friends (her chosen tribe) who supported her. She needed this support as the universe began to challenge her faith with many difficulties as she began her travels – selling her house, jobs falling out, etc.
Now, she is not only a speech coach, but a freedom coach, helping others to find their voice and take charge of their lives!
The ASK Method
Teaching people how to use their voice is a lot more than sharing technical details. One of the techniques that Shulie uses is the ASK method. ASK stands for Attitude, Skills, and Knowledge.
Attitude deals with processing traumas and past stories that need to be resolved for us to honor our voice. Do you have limiting beliefs that hold you back from owning your voice? Self-talk and our personal worth are important on the speech development journey. She has to step out of the role of a speech coach and, instead, act as their “freedom coach.”
Through learning the skills and knowledge, we have what we need to help ourselves in any scenario when we need to use our voice. This can be in public speaking roles, conversations with your boss, or a tough chat with a loved one. Understanding the way we best communicate can help you to avoid awkward conversations.
Avoiding Conversations When Necessary
With the holiday season here, we are all experiencing more social interactions than normal. We have office parties, family celebrations, and small talk in grocery store lines. Sometimes, these conversations can become awkward and uncomfortable (especially when alcohol is involved).
While we definitely don’t want to avoid hard conversations forever, there is the right time and place for these (keep reading). Sometimes, it is just better to excuse yourself from a rude or triggering conversation. Feel free to say:
“Excuse me, I’m not having this conversation with you right now. This is not the right time.”
I love the term Shulie has come up with to tell her loved ones she is done with a conversation – “I’ve expired.” She uses this when she no longer has anything to say about a topic. I love that!
When to Speak Up
In addition to avoiding conversations we don’t want to have, there are situations when it may be beneficial for us to share our opinions. Whether debating politics, favorite sports teams, or social issues, knowing when to get involved and how to do so is so important.
If speaking up is a struggle, know that it will get better through practicing. We also start to use our voice in a smarter way the more we get to know ourselves on our personal development journey.
“Open that throat chakra. The more you use your voice, the easier it gets. Especially, if you’ve been on this path of personal development… You can stay calm because you know what your triggers are. You know how anxiety and anger starts to manifest in your body. When you know yourself, you know when it is time to exit. You can be honest and you can state your opinion in a nice way, in a non-aggressive way, and still be assertive, still bring light to the situations.”
One of Shulie’s favorite quotes is, “A wise man once said nothing.” She suggests you consider some questions before jumping into a heated debate: Can you shed light? Will it matter in five years? Can you say anything to shift the energy in the environment? Remember, it’s not your job to convert anyone. Just be light and be you.
If you are going to offer an opinion, maybe try saying “Please consider _____” to begin your statement.
If situations get stressful, you have full permission to excuse yourself to the bathroom and breathe. Recollect yourself as often as you need to.
Prepping for a Hard Conversation
Sometimes, we know that a hard conversation needs to be had, and usually take place before a celebratory occasion. In this case, reach out to the person and invite them to have a conversation with you. Rather than say, “we need to talk,” try Shulie’s suggestion:
“I’m inviting you to have a conversation about _____. Before we go into the holidays, I would love to clear this up.”
Try to have the conversation at least two weeks before the celebration, so you can clear any new feelings. When you are the one to initiate the chat, it gives you the control over setting the tone and giving yourself the time needed to prepare. Use this to your best advantage.
Set the tone and some ground rules. “Let’s do this without name calling or blaming.” Offer the idea of staying on topic, not bringing up past offenses, etc. Set the environment to make it a safe space and use love as the center of your conversation.
If you are nervous about the conversation, try practicing possible scenarios. Shulie suggests writing down a number of questions that you would like to ask or address. You might want to ask, “What is my problem?” and really think through that before beginning the conversation. You can script out how you would like to start or practice with a friend.
Don’t be afraid of whatever emotions come up. You are allowed to be vulnerable and it will help you to have a stronger conversation.
One of the best questions is, “are you okay?” The holidays are stressful and there is a lot going on. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is simply show empathy for your loved ones. You provide the space for connection and support.
Hard Conversations with Shulie Gibson
For all of Shulie’s advice, check out our interview:
Are you a big fan of grammar and communication? Check out Shulie’s line of adorable tees, caps, and mugs. These are sure to bring a smile to your face and can be found at s3ish.com.
You can also keep up with Shulie’s speech advice, fun tongue twisters, and sassy quotes, follow her business Instagram account @speaksuccessinc. To connect with Shulie personally and see her travel adventures, head over to her personal account @Shuliegib_speechienomad.
I am so grateful for Shulie’s advice on the video today and I hope you feel empowered in your own conversation. It’s important to know when to excuse yourself, when to speak up, and when to plan ahead for a tough chat. You’ve got this!
Questions? Comment below! Shulie and I would love to offer any advice we have for conversations you are struggling to have.
I believe in you, always.