A voice for the voiceless – how to turn up the volume and help effectively
Learn the 5 steps to get your message across effectively
Helping people – it is a great, often noble thing to do and for many of us, it is what we want to dedicate our life to. That is fantastic.
Chances are that we are all touched by a tragedy or a difficult challenge in life that makes us think about what really matters in life and results in some life changes even. This is perfectly normal. Change teaches us many things and the lessons are different for everybody.
For some, it means they want to shine a light onto social issues and raise awareness. We need that. We can only learn about something that has been hiding in the darkness of our understanding when somebody teaches us and guides us towards more knowledge.
We are used to ignoring things that are unpleasant. We do live in a society that worships eternal youth, superficial encounters and a quick buck. To counter that, we need to turn our focus on to things that matter and change the world for the better.
That is where raising awareness for causes comes in. There are many roadblocks to break through, silences to be broken and minds to be opened in this world.
Many of us would like to be a champion for those with no voice because of the existing injustices in our world. YES to that!
I am all for more kindness and appreciation of differences, now more than ever. It makes my heart sing when I see women share their story of miscarriage and make talking about this awful loss more common.
I am happy to see people tell their stories of living with invisible disability. It gives me a warm feeling when people share their struggle with mental illness.
All of this is needed to bring on change that we need so dearly.
If you ever wondered how you could contribute towards this necessary shift of our social conscience then I have got your start covered. From what I learnt through working with my clients and in life in general, bringing about change in whatever area needs a few crucial things to be successful. Find below 5 important steps you need to take to help your cause effectively.
This is the most important part. There is no point being a voice for the voiceless when you don’t even know what needs to be said. Remember, this is not about what you think should happen or what you assume should be talked about.
This is about helping those that struggle to get their message or story across. Being voiceless doesn’t mean they have no opinions and ideas.
In fact, the whole term ‘voiceless’ is tricky. There are many people who feel like they have no voice when in fact they do. That is not the problem. The issue is that they are not being heard because their issues might touch on things the broader society isn’t keen on knowing about (mental health challenges, anyone?). Therefore, you will only make a difference if you start by listening. And by this, I mean shut up and listen. Take notes; encourage others to find their own words so they can tell their story on their terms. It is NOT about you. You can’t be a voice if you can’t listen first.
Check your privilege
Step two of being a voice for those who aren’t being heard is equally important than step one. Privilege stands in the way of major social change most of the time. It’s a real bitch because so often, we, the privileged, aren’t even aware of it because, well…. We’re privileged.
It is so deeply rooted within us; it’s as normal to us as it is to breathe. This means we don’t see issues that are so pressing for others. For example, and this is the most obvious, is white privilege. In the western world, we live in a white world. The majority of people are white. Most of them are rich. By rich, I mean they have a roof over their head, always food on the table, a job that brings in money to live. The better-educated people are in the western world, the whiter their environment becomes.
It is a sad fact. Therefore, if you are a well educated (and well meaning) white person who wants to be a voice for the voiceless, check your privilege. Be aware how well off you are. Remind yourself that you might not understand an issue fully and deeply because unknowingly, your white privilege prevented you from realizing it.
An extra responsibility to check your privilege comes with being white and male – the dominant species on the planet. If this is you then you live in privilege galore most likely. You must take extra care and time to learn and listen deeper and more intently than others before you can be an effective voice for the voiceless.
It might not come as a surprise that your cause you’re standing up for is being ignored to start with. As soon as something doesn’t come with free stuff or a trip to Disneyland, attention fades. But don’t give up.
Persistency is the key and this is actually a blessing in disguise. It gives you the chance to be creative and to be unique and bring attention to your matter that will surprise people.
It will need time on your part to come up with a special way of getting spotlight onto your issue. But you are committed to it so keep going. Ideas will come to those who wait and have a raging fire in their belly to change the status quo.
Be clear (who you are doing this for)
Given the fact that we need to get attention first and it will need some time, make sure you are very clear in your message. Put in the work for something people will understand. Take your time to make sure what you are saying is clear and easily understood.
If you are unsure, go back to step 1 and listen again. Always remember that this is a message for those who struggle. So keep it simple.
You need to be comfortable with the message, too as you are the one who gets it out to the world. People will sense if you are not behind the message or don’t believe in it. What you say needs to work for those you stand up for but you as well. You can’t be a true champion if you feel like a phony all the time.
A message will change over time as the issue you’re bringing attention to will change. Ideally, it will progress and people are more aware and as a result, your voice will change. And that is ok. We need to go with the flow and people will understand the changes as long as you are honest and upfront about it. Life always has surprises in store for us and that’s ok. You can weave them into your work.
Honesty also applies to you personally. If you feel like the fire in your belly is dying out and you can’t identify with the cause any longer, be honest and take a step back.
Nothing hurts a cause more than someone who doesn’t care anymore.
This is a harsh realization to come to at time. It hurts. Know though that it is what it is.
Don’t dwell on the fact your heart is no longer in it. Remember instead how much work you put in and how much you have achieved while being committed to your cause.
There is a lot to be proud of. You cleared the way for others to step up. Take ownership of your contribution and remember it fondly. You have done the best you can.