Sheryl Sandberg's 4 Legendary Tips On Speaking Up 

By James Mills, Mentorship Coach & Associate Partner, Lighthouse International

Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook, and a best-selling author and billionaire. She is achieving at a global level, and through her example, is now a strong advocate for gender equality. Last year she gave advice to girls in high school on Quora, which included powerful insights on how to 'speak up'... a skill that anyone can learn, at any stage of their education and career.

1. Speak Up When You're Not Sure

"Speak up even when you’re not sure about the answer. Avoid editing what you want to say in your head, and try not to worry about being wrong. Speaking up isn’t about having the perfect answer. It gives you the experience of thinking on your feet, debating with others, and wrestling with an idea—all crucial skills that you’ll use in every area of your life."

2. Be Open & Frank With Friends

"We’ve probably all gossiped at one point or another, but if you always talk about your friends instead of to them, you miss the chance to practice speaking up to the people who matter most. Being able to tell someone how you feel will help you in every area of your life, no matter how you choose to lean in. And you may want to avoid relying on texting or social media to say the tough stuff. It makes communication easier in the moment, but you’ll risk paying the price later of not speaking face-to-face now. Being direct is scary, but do it with care and you’ll earn the respect and trust of those around you."

3. Remember: It’s Not Always Easy To Speak Up, But It’s Worth It

"You’re growing up in a world that’s still confused about how powerful it wants girls to be. Girls are supposed to be confident but nice, ambitious but not selfish, successful but not conceited. The rules can be confusing and unfair—which means not everyone’s going to love it when you speak up. In fact, no matter how nicely you say something, there may be a person who thinks you’re being mean. Trust your voice even when it feels like the world doesn’t, and stay close to the friends and family members who celebrate your strength."

4. Practice!

"You’ve grown up practicing things like schoolwork, sports, and music. But no one tells you to practice speaking up, taking risks, or saying what you need. What’s up with that? There’s nothing in life that doesn’t require practice, and leaning in is no exception. Work those muscles! It might be scary the first time, but it gets easier."

It can take an immense amount of courage to express to others what we're really thinking and feeling. We may fear judgment from others by getting things wrong or looking stupid. The reality is, that it is through expressing ourselves and receiving feedback, as Sheryl Sandberg highlights, that we have wonderful opportunities to learn and grow.

The original Quora post is here. You may also want to check out this extremely humbling article about what Sheryl Sandberg learnt from the sudden death of her husband.


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