When it comes to expressing ourselves there are two kinds of people: fast-twitch and slow-twitch.
Fast-twitch individuals don't appear to need much time to think before they speak. What's on their lungs is on their tongues. There's not much fear of being wrong at play. They love sharing their ideas and being part of the conversation, so they give freely and often.
Slow-twitch individuals are slower to share their thoughts. This might be because they like to consider different angles before speaking. Or it maybe due to a reluctance to share personal or private thoughts. Or maybe there's a level of fear at play. For example, they don't want to speak up and be wrong or made fun of. But they may spend an entire meeting, just observing without saying a word.
When these two impulses go unchecked, the result is less than productive. The fast-twitch people dominate (and might be having so much fun they don't notice). The slow-twitch people recede (and maybe seethe a little).
This is a problem if we want to create harmonious gatherings. It's also a concern if we're trying to come up with solutions or ideas. Any kind of innovation requires diversity of thought, so if we only hear a handful of ideas and they're all from the same people, we'll keep making the same mistakes.
Everyone has a voice. And everyone deserves to be heard. There's a way for fast and slow-twitch people to help each other. That's what I want to throw out as your challenge this week.
If you're a fast-twitch individual, be conscious of how often you speak up in a meeting or gathering. See if you can limit yourself to two contributions before you consciously share the floor. That can be by remaining quiet and seeing who fills the void. Or it can be more active: Asking someone quiet what their thoughts are. Or, if someone's been spoken over, going back to them and prompting, "What were you trying to say?"
If you're a slow-twitch individual, I hope you know that your thoughts have value, and they don't have to be perfect before you voice them. I challenge you to speak up at least once in every meeting or gathering you attend this week and see what happens. If you're having a hard time getting a word in edgewise, don't be afraid to raise a hand and hold it up until you're seen. If fear is what holds your tongue, do a little prep work before the event---research the topic or people in the room---and write down some talking points or ideas to share in advance. Or while people are talking, take notes. See what helps you organize your thoughts and gives you the courage to take focus.
Taking the time to notice your preferences and doing the opposite not only will open up the room, it will open up new ways of seeing yourself.