How to Tactfully Speak Your Mind
Got something to say? Real Simple asked a few distinguished and outspoken experts—including a former secretary of state and a reality-show judge—for their best tips on how to gracefully make your opinions known.
4. Confront People Who Interrupt
Being able to express yourself fully means not worrying that someone is going to talk over you before you’ve finished. But
that often happens in animated conversations when people don’t even realize that they’re cutting off the other person. If
you’re speaking with someone who keeps interrupting, you have to point it out to her. To keep the mood light, make a joke
of it—and implicate yourself. Say, “Do I talk really slowly? Because every time you interrupt me, I worry that I sound like
I’m narrating a five-hour-long documentary about soil erosion.”
Henry Alford is the author of the manners book Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That? ($25, amazon.com)
5. Be Concise
Women tend to be apologetic or to preface things with “I’m really sorry, but…” There’s no reason for that. When I was in my
20s and a local news reporter in Washington, D.C., I was asked to do a series called “No Time for Sex,” about busy women with
children. The assignment felt sexist to me, so I told my news director that it made me uncomfortable and that I wasn’t going
to do it. I didn’t stomp my feet; I just kept it short and direct. I think if you talk extensively about something—out of
nerves or wanting to explain yourself—you end up saying too much. An old interview trick I’ve learned is not to chatter just
to fill the dead air. Speak your piece, then stop and listen.
Katie Couric is a special correspondent for ABC News and will launch the daytime talk show Katie in September.