A work colleague agrees to meet you after hours for a drink. You have been wanting to get to know her better and look forward to the event all day.
You leave work eagerly, arrive at the bar and order a glass of wine to sip while you wait, and wait and wait. After awhile you realize she isn’t coming.
You send a text. The reply comes eventually with an apology.
She got held up at work or she ran into someone she hadn’t seen for awhile and the time got away from her.
You don’t want to let on how angry and disappointed you are, so text back saying “no big deal maybe another time.”
But it is a big deal, for you. Your precarious self confidence slips even lower as you wonder why people don’t seem to take you seriously.
You sigh as you ask yourself what you can do about it, wondering if you have a fatal flaw.
In fact, there is a solution, and it may surprise you.
Check out six things confident women understand about why expressing your feelings is key to gaining the respect you crave.
1. Others understand you and value your concerns.
Remember the time you and some friends were deciding where to go for dinner?
You hoped no one would mention the new Chinese restaurant in town. Soy is not your friend and you know you will suffer digestive upsets for days after eating there.
Of course someone does suggest it and there is excitement about going as the reviews have been excellent. You want to express your concerns but instead say “Sure, whatever you all want to do is fine with me.”
The group heads enthusiastically to the new restaurant and because your feelings remain unexpressed, no one understands your misgivings or how negatively this meal may impact your health.
If only you had spoken up and let people know that, while you like Chinese food, soy is hard on your digestion. Chances are they would have welcomed your input and honored it.
And, not only would you have enjoyed your meal a whole lot more, but your friends will stop taking you for granted and will continue to respect your input in the future.
2. Your courage is awe-inspiring.
You are enjoying a drink with some friends on the patio of a local restaurant.
A woman named Anne walks by with her husband and waves a cheery greeting.
After she is out of earshot someone tells a story about how Anne can be unreliable and is not to be trusted. Some others nod their heads seeming to agree.
You speak up and tell a story about how Anne made you an emergency loan years ago when you were going through a rough spell.
Suddenly someone else offers a similar story about Anne’s generosity, inspired by your courage and willingness to risk expressing your true feelings in a situation that is less than supportive.
Notice the ripple effect of sharing the real you. Not only did you inspire another woman to speak up, but you may also have encouraged the others to see Anne in a more positive light.
3. Total strangers seek you out.
You give a well-received speech at local networking event.
As part of your talk you share a story about how you regularly tutor learning disabled kids. You share how one of your own children suffered from such a disability and how you struggled to get her the help she needed.
A week or so later, when out shopping, someone stops you and tells you they heard your speech and were inspired to take action in a similar way.
She thanks you and lets you know how your speech has been a genuine inspiration for her.
You are moved by her feedback and motivated to continue to share your feelings spreading even more goodwill.
4. Your inner voice of worry no longer controls you.
During most of your life worry has dominated your thoughts.
You stress about what others think about your wardrobe, or your political opinions or your desire to pursue an alternative career path.
Your response has been to hide your true feelings by dressing conservatively, never expressing opinions unless surrounded by like-minded individuals and sticking with a job you hate.
Then one day you decide to start sharing yourself a bit.
A trusted friend helps you find clothes more in keeping with your hidden, wild nature and little by little you venture out.
Now others stop you and ask: “What’s different about you? Did you change your hairstyle? Get new glasses? You look fabulous!”
What they don’t quite get is that for perhaps the first time ever they’re seeing the real you. You revel in the attention, relax and stop worrying.
5. You hit fewer speed bumps in life.
When you don’t share your feelings, you have a lot of those days when nothing seems to go right.
Like the time you agreed to drive some friends to a movie. You had reservations about volunteering because you knew your battery was iffy and you’d been too preoccupied to get a new one installed.
But it was your turn to drive and you brushed away your fears rather than talk about them. You hoped your car would start a few more times and not leave you and your friends stranded.
But after the show your car was dead and you had to wait an hour for the tow truck to give you a jump.
Instead of of enjoying a nice meal together as you had originally planned, your group was cold, hungry and discouraged.
Imagine how much easier this experience would have been had you expressed your concerns and offered to drive the next time.
6. Friends can’t wait to see you.
When you hold back on expressing yourself, when nobody knows what you really enjoy doing, or places you like to go, their feelings for you may be lukewarm.
They experience you as “nice,” but may find you to be a bit boring or standoffish. “Who is she really?” they wonder, “and why am I spending time with her?”
These people may find it difficult to converse with you. Uncomfortable long silences sometimes occur after you run out of superficial topics to discuss.
When you express your feelings more freely, your friends begin to understand what you are all about. You seem like someone they want to be with and get to know better.
And, while the silences still occur, they feel comfortable as is the case when you are with close friends.
You are grateful for these friendships that mean so much to you.
How confident women share their feelings
Waiting by yourself in a bar for someone who doesn’t show up is no fun.
When it happens, you would like to lash out and let them know how much their actions hurt you. But when you have expressed yourself like that in the past, you felt terribly embarrassed about it later.
These experiences didn’t win you any friends and gave you one more reason to keep your true feelings hidden.
Fortunately, expressing your feelings doesn’t have to mean being so negative you destroy any chance at a relationship.
Instead you can easily express them in ways that increase your self-confidence, open the door to better relationships and attract the respect you deserve.
When someone lets you down try this: “I understand and I’m really disappointed. I was looking forward to a chance to get to know you better (or work with you on this project, or meet your family, etc.). How about if we reschedule for next week at the same time?”
With this response you demonstrate empathy for your friend and her situation. You also communicate how much you value her company, her ideas or her expertise.
Whether or not she reschedules, she understands you felt hurt, but you still respect her. She in turn will respect you for your courage.
Best of all, when you honestly express your feelings like this, you will no longer be a person who sits in a bar alone and waits for someone who never shows.
Instead you will have plenty of people in your life who truly appreciate you and look forward to seeing you often.
*Photo by Tikkho Maciel on Unsplash