By Emma Carville

The world itself is the way it is today because people recognise the importance of their ideas. Every blog post you open, article you read or Pinterest recipe that you try; they were all ideas from an individual who decided to share them. Ideas are of paramount importance – from the book you’re reading or the device you’re currently scrolling on, they were ideas long before they took physical form.

Some of us are brimming with ideas. We might decide to keep them under our hat. We surreptitiously scribble them down in diaries. At times we shake our heads at them like sceptics. It seems that for a lot of us we need to feel either brave or excited or passionate in order to tell others about our ideas.

Why would anyone care what I think?

In seminars at college I used to look around at my peers while our lecturer stood in silence waiting for us to share our perceptions of the novel we’d been reading. The whole purpose of our classes was to share our opinions and insights and develop our ideas and yet people were so reticent about speaking out. I would throw my hand up when I had a light-bulb moment for three reasons; 1. I hate awkward silences; 2. Class participation was worth 10% of my overall grade. 3. I wanted to conceptualise with other like-minded students. Most times, it takes just one person to start the process before others join in shaking their heads in disapproval or nodding in agreement. My point here is that once one person shares, another person feels more comfortable to do the same and so on. It should come as no surprise that the noisier and the more excitable classes were so much better for our essay plans than the 90 minute sessions punctuated by coughs and sighs.

On the other hand, I understand why people remain silent too. We sit zip lipped and berate ourselves thinking, ‘Why would anyone care what I think anyhow?’ or ‘I’m not educated enough to speak about this topic.’  These excuses hinder us and keep us from expressing our truly unique thoughts. I myself am a huge culprit of this as I live with constant imposter syndrome (me and 66% of women that is) even when it comes to topical conversations with a group of close friends. I’ll shy away from sharing as I feel intimidated or embarrassed but I know that this is the wrong response. Realistically, my input is always important. My friends appreciate hearing what I’ve got to say because they care about me and therefore my own original thoughts. Even if I feel don’t feel well equipped to tackle a specific subject matter I listen carefully so that I can learn and formulate my opinion perhaps for later in the conversation or at a different time.

It’s worth remembering that there is no-one else in the world like you, who sees the world through your lens or has had the same life experience. Sure someone might be similar but rarely are they the same. Whatever it is you have, bring it to the table. If life was a dinner party, sharing your ideas would be the equivalent of passing a plate of food around to the other guests for them to taste it. Some will gobble it up while others spit it out.

Think about it – employers request to hear from their staff during meetings; teachers assign group work projects and marketing emails ask you how their business can do better. Why? The world needs us to harvest our ideas! In the words of John C Maxwell; “Teamwork makes the dream work.” It is only when you share an idea do you actually reap any benefit. In order for one to become successful we need another person to give us feedback – whether that’s praise or criticism, it’s necessary. We see this in a business context day in and day out whether at work or on TV with shows like The Apprentice. But it happens in various other aspects of your life too like planning a date night with your s/o or in a group chat when brainstorming what birthday present to buy a mutual friend.

So what’s the big idea?                                  

Speak up when someone asks you to, whether it is your stance on the current state of affairs in a country or your take on Sally Rooney’s Normal People airing on RTE. As well as bolstering your self-confidence, your ideas are crucial to deeper and more meaningful relationships with others because when you share your ideas or listen, you become more empathetic and attuned to the world around you.

If you’re someone who values the thoughts of others as well as expressing your own then you should definitely come and chat with us at our next Salon. You and 3 strangers spend an evening engrossed in rich, inspiring conversation over a menu of thought provoking questions. Join us? Personally, I think that would be a fantastic idea.

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