If you're never bold in your life, you'll find it hard to fight for what you believe in. Living a life true to yourself means that you have to stand up for what you believe in. This means you have to be bold sometimes. But how can you actually become bolder?
Being bold doesn't mean smashing pens at your colleagues whenever they disagree with you and throwing a tantrum. Instead, you want to be respectful and assertive when you're bold. Depending on your personality, this can be challenging. But the benefits of being bold far outweigh the potential negative outcomes.
If standing up for yourself and being bold sounds like a nightmare to you, you're in the right place. This article shows you why it's important to be bold in your life, with actionable tips to help you get started.
- What it means to be bold
- What being bold does not mean
- Why it's important to be bold sometimes
- 6 ways to be bolder in life
- Wrapping up
What it means to be bold
Being bold can be hard. Especially if you're a person that values peace and tries to avoid conflict at all times.
Why is it important to be bold? This quote sums up it rather nicely.
If you don't have any enemies in life you have never stood up for anything.Winston Churchill
Being bold means "not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff". This often translates to standing up for what you believe in, despite potentially stepping on someone's toe.
For example, imagine you're in a meeting at work and everybody around you agrees on something that you don't believe in. If you're bold, you'd stand up for your opinion and make your case.
- Even if it means that you want to prove your colleagues wrong.
- Even if it means the meeting will take twice as long.
- And even if your manager will want to speak with you afterward.
In other words, being bold means speaking up or acting up, without dwelling on the potential negative consequences of your actions.
What being bold does not mean
Being bold might be considered a good thing, but if you go too far, you'll not only be bold but you may also be mean, disrespectful, and careless.
These are things that you should be wary of. Instead, you should try to be bold in a positive way:
- By being assertive in your communication, but not hurtful.
- By always respecting the opinion of someone else.
- By not letting your emotions get the upper hand, and following rationality instead.
How do you know if you've been too bold? You can often get a pretty good idea from the people you're with.
When people give you positive feedback and they continue to ask for your opinion, you've probably done a good job.
If, on the other hand, you're not invited to meetings anymore, chances are you've gone over the line.
Why it's important to be bold sometimes
As discussed, deciding to be bold may result in some negative outcomes. When you say no, go against the grain, or challenge the norm based on what you truly believe in, you may face rejection or retaliation.
However, when you’re in the right and you eventually find the courage to speak up, it can be very rewarding. It may help you:
- Get others to respect you more
- Give a voice to the oppressed.
- Get out of an unjust situation.
- Make a real difference in your community.
- Get what you truly deserve.
- Bring people together.
Some of these benefits are even backed up by studies.
Being bold can increase your confidence
It often seems like confidence and boldness go hand in hand. After all, how can you be bold if you're not confident and don't believe in yourself?
But does confidence lead to boldness, or is it the other way around? A 2017 study found a significant positive correlation between assertive behavior and self-esteem in adolescents. Although it’s unclear which came first, high self-esteem or assertive behavior, the link between them is undeniable.
Being bold can give a voice to the oppressed
It takes only one bold person to inspire a group of people to stand up.
The best example of this that I know of is the #MeToo movement. This movement sparked a revolution among women who have experienced different forms of sexual harassment and hadn’t found the courage to speak up until then.
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017
This study extracted Twitter posts using the hashtag #MeToo and found that, aside from telling their harassment stories, these victims also expressed how these experiences affected them. This led to more and more people forming opinions, discussing their views, and engaging in social activism.
This is a beautiful example of how it may only take one bold person to cause a change in the world. By being bold, you'll be more likely to actually change the world for the better.
6 ways to be bolder in life
By now, it should be clear that being bold comes with a lot of benefits (and some potential pitfalls).
But how can you actually become bolder in life, especially when this doesn't seem to be part of who you are? Here are 6 ways to be bold in life, regardless of your personality type.
1. Find your values in life
It’s much easier to be bold if you know what you stand for. Being bold and speaking up often starts from figuring out and defining your values.
There are many ways to go about this. For example, you can simply try to brainstorm and write down behaviors and characteristics that you value in yourself and others. But on a more specific level, you can also write down your goals for a project at work. If you know what you're goals and values are, it'll be easier to stand up for yourself whenever it's needed.
The most important thing to know is to take as much time as you need and be completely honest with yourself. Keep in mind that values in different domains of life can sometimes contradict each other: you may value independence in your personal life and cooperation at work or vice versa.
You may also find that your values don’t entirely align with those of your colleagues or role models. Don’t be discouraged if these things happen: you’re working out your own values, not someone else’s.
2. Keep yourself informed
While being bold and assertive is something positive, you don't want to be known as a bold, uninformed and naive person. If that happens, being bold suddenly loses its appeal, right?
If you stand up for yourself and be bold, it's important to be informed about whatever you're doing. If you're in a meeting and make a case about something that goes against your colleagues, you better make sure you can handle a bit of resistance.
The more informed you are, the more confident you can be in taking a side or making a stand. You are also less susceptible to disrespect, hostility, and rejection if you have all the facts straightened out.
It’s important to not just look for information that supports your opinion. It’s arguably even more important to explore the counter-arguments. Why would someone disagree with what you believe in? When you’re properly informed about all the angles, you’ll be better able to stand up for yourself without being silenced by the opposition.
This also helps you mitigate most of the risks that come with being bold. If you're trying to be bold without being informed, you may come across as reckless.
3. Say no
So far, we've talked about knowing your values and keeping yourself informed. These things are important pieces of the puzzle, but they don't actually make you bold.
Here's something that does help you be bolder in life: say no more often.
You must realize that “No” is a complete sentence.
If someone asks you something that you’re not obliged to do and don’t want to do, you can simply say “No” and leave it at that. You don’t always have to justify why you can’t make it to a party, or why you can’t work overtime on the weekends.
By becoming more comfortable with saying “No”, you’ll find it easier to be more true to yourself. In James Altucher’s book The Power of No, he asserts that saying “No” more often is really saying “Yes” to your own life. A life that’s more meaningful for you. Whereas too much ‘yes’ can leave us drained emotionally and physically from overcommitment to others.
If you want more tips on how to say no more often, you may like our article on how to stop being a people-pleaser.
4. Learn to resolve conflicts instead of avoiding them
People may be angry or disappointed in you when you say no, especially if they’re used to you saying yes. Emotions, even negative ones, are a natural part of human relationships. A good relationship isn’t necessarily one without conflict, but rather one where conflicts are resolved.
It isn’t your job and responsibility to keep others happy.
If someone is angry at you or has hurt and insulted you, address the issue. State the issue and your feelings about it and let the other person have their say. Use “I” statements and avoid making assumptions about how the other person might feel.
For example: “I didn’t like how you made the decision without discussing it with me first.” or “I can see that you are angry with me. You were counting on me to come along with your plan and I didn’t.”
This is a great way to not only be bold, but also assertive and respectful towards others.
5. Tell the truth
An important step in living a bold life is, unsurprisingly, telling the truth.
- If you don’t find something funny, then don’t laugh.
- If you don’t agree with what someone says, then don’t.
This John Lennon quote sums it up really nicely:
Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it’ll always get you the right ones.John Lennon
By not being genuine, you begin a chain reaction of dishonest approval of what you dislike, encouraging more of it in the future. In this way, you can help to create an atmosphere in your life that you don’t actually like. It’s like going along with a shade of blue for the living room that you’re not actually that keen on.
This closely aligns with our article on living a life true to yourself, which contains more tips like this one!
6. Embrace the discomfort
If you’ve never stood up for yourself or said no, expressing your true opinions can be scary. However, in order to grow and learn, you’ve got to get out of your comfort zone.
For example, when somebody asks you to do something and you answer "No", it can feel incredibly uncomfortable to just leave it at that.
While it may be in your nature to want to explain yourself, you'll want to resist this urge. Don’t go on a tirade about how tired and busy you are, even if it’s true. Instead, politely say no, and leave it at that. When pressed for an explanation, just say that you cannot do that right now.
Here are some useful phrases to remember for the next time you want to say no:
- I cannot do that right now.
- Thank you for thinking of me, but I will have to pass on that (for now).
- I don’t think I’m the best person to help you with that.
- I cannot help you right now, but I’d be happy to help next week/month/etc.
Use that last one sparingly and only for those projects that you’d genuinely like to be a part of, but can’t right now because you’ve got too much on your plate already.
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I hope by now you have a better idea of how to be bold in life, even when it's not in your personality. Being bold may not make you the most friendly person in the office, but it can help you get the respect you deserve.
What do you think? Are you a bold person by nature, or are you finding it hard to express your opinion over someone else's? Do you have a tip to add to this article? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!