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. 

By Kate Rockwood
Illustration of a woman standing, surrounded by menLeif Parsons

 

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.

Read More About:Inspiration & Motivation

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