“People who come to me, who can’t speak up, or they’re being disrespected, or they can’t make decisions, or they can’t tell their boss ‘no this doesn’t work’, it comes from childhood. How we are trained in childhood, the culture of the ecosystem that we are raised in, and how we are treated when we try to speak up for ourselves, or when we even think we want to speak up for ourselves. Everything about that is within you now, unless you’ve done the work to revise it, and heal it, and change it.” – Kathy Caprino

Speaking up for ourselves and standing up for what’s right is a deep challenge that I hear about from people literally every day of the week.

Why do we struggle so deeply with speaking up? And what steps can we take today to begin to empower ourselves to say what needs to be said, effectively and authoritatively, even when we feel we can’t?

In today’s episode of Finding Brave, you’ll hear my own personal story of challenge and trauma from my childhood that carried through to my corporate career (and beyond) and impacted my ability to speak up for myself. And we’ll explore the very real and damaging consequences of not speaking your truth.

Being able to speak up effectively for yourself is entwined with our self-worth, self-confidence, esteem, bravery, boundaries, what you learned as a child and in your family, what you experienced when you did speak up, and much more. I share how emotional manipulation and narcissism impacts your ability to advocate for yourself, as well as the 7 essential steps to take to speak up assertively and effectively, especially when you feel you can’t.

Highlights from this Episode:

  • The role our childhoods play in us not being able to speak up [6:59]
  • How I discovered advocating for others was who I really am [10:46]
  • Why clearing your emotions and balancing yourself before you speak is so essential [16:50]
  • How understanding the individual you’re dealing with — and the ecosystem you’re in — will make your communications more successful [19:19]
  • Why you’ll need to approach speaking up to a narcissist differently [22:20]
  • The reason you’ll need to prepare for the consequences of speaking up, and how exactly to do it [26:25]
  • What happens if you try to make everyone happy [29:28]
  • How outside help can be so critical for this [31:05]

Resources Mentioned:

Kathy’s Book Breakdown, Breakthrough: The Professional Woman’s Guide to Claiming a Life of Passion, Power and Purpose

Kathy’s 6 Dominant Action Styles Quiz

6-part webinar training on Dealing with Narcissism  http://kathycaprino.com/dealing-with-narcissism

Kathy’s Interview Dr. Neha Sangwan on Forbes, The Most Potent Cure For Your Sickness Is Having The Conversation You’re Running From

Dr. Neha Sangwan’s Interview on Best Work/Best Life Podcast

Talk Rx: Five Steps To Honest Conversations that Create Connection, Health and Happiness by Dr. Neha Sangwan

Kathy’s Forbes posts:
10 Ways To ‘Brave Up’: How To Rise Up, Speak Up And Stand Up Boldly For Yourself

7 Crippling Parenting Behaviors That Keep Children From Growing Into Leaders

Gender Bias Is Real: Women’s Perceived Competency Drops Significantly When Judged As Being Forceful

Kathy’s Amazing Career Project

The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks

Also of interest:

Kathy’s Forbes interview with Lauren Letellier: The Crushing Similarities Between Family And Business Dysfunction


“I hadn’t known that my life could affect my health like that.” [5:00]

“Understand the ecosystem and the individual that you want to share something with.” [19:19]

“You wouldn’t believe the rapid, complete transformation of people when they start to be clear and say what needs to be said.” [25:45]


Download a Transcript                Download on iTunes


  1. Laury

    Hi Kathy,
    Looking forward to hearing your story as this is something I really struggle with too.

    I’m not much of a listener – more of a reader. I tried clicking on the link above to download the transcript but it’s not connected to anything.

    Is there a transcript that I am able to download?

  2. Sam

    Wow, brilliant. Thank you so much for your insights. You may gear your blogs towards women, but your brilliant insights are extremely helpful for men as well.


  1. 101: Helping Our Girls Raise Their Hands Not Lower Their Standards, with Illana Raia - […] Finding Brave Episode 19: How To Speak Up Effectively When You Think You Can’t  […]


Kathy’s new book The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths to Career Bliss shares vital information on the 7 most damaging power gaps that 98% of professional women face and how to overcome them. Boost your power and confidence today!


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