Standing up for beliefs is instrumental in societal change.

Illustration by Roe Gassett | The Signal

Speaking up can be challenging, especially if you are with unwelcoming people, are not comfortable sharing your opinions, or if other people talk down about your views.

Allowing your voice to be heard can change the world. Groups like the #MeToo movement or Black Lives Matter spoke out against injustices in our communities. But you do not have to be an activist to speak out; you can do so without even using your own words by signing petitions. 

According to The Risk in Speaking Up, speaking can be a risk and reward activity. Peaking up can affect your career, emotional wellbeing, social life, finances and physical wellbeing. Sometimes, standing up for your beliefs can result in the loss of jobs and friends, threats to your public image, physical assault or getting private-information leaks. 

Speaking out is not a bad thing. You just need to know your surroundings before you say something that may be controversial. Like the saying ‘reading the room,’ you have to be 100% sure that you speak out and that you and others are in a safe environment. According to Teaching Tolerance, there are six steps to speaking up. 

Step one: Be ready. 

You should always be comfortable before speaking out about something. Being prepared is finding the courage to speak out about the topic. You should never feel like you are forced to speak out about something when you do not feel comfortable about it. 

Step two: Identify the behavior of other people. 

When speaking out about someone’s actions, just describe their behavior. It is easy to tag someone you are criticizing, but try to properly speak out without making the same mistake the person may be doing. You should just describe their behavior without labeling them. 

Step three: Appeal to principles. 

If you are close to the person relationship-wise, you should appeal to their better instincts. You should think about the person you are criticizing. The last thing you want is to lose a close relationship with someone you care about over a disagreement. 

Step four: Set boundaries. 

In every relationship, you have to set boundaries one way or another. You have to draw the line at the behavior you disagree with. 

Step five: Be an ally.

You should never silence yourself out of fear of judgment. Suppose you are comfortable enough to speak out about a particular issue. In that case, whether it’s a movement you strongly agree with or even individual words someone says in an office, you should always speak out and refuse to be silenced. 

Step six: Be vigilant. 

You must stay prepared and never stop speaking up. Speaking up is a great tool when you want to address a specific societal issue. It does not have to be around just people you know. If someone is doing something you disagree with, speak up about it. 

Speaking up can be intimidating, but people who stand up for their beliefs can make the world a much better place. All it takes is a brave individual to speak up about injustice. That can bring change to a community.