In the workplace, it can be impossible to tell when is an appropriate time to voice your opinions or concerns, especially if you are just starting out on your chosen career path. Whether it’s holding back an idea during a brainstorm for fear of being shot down or biting your tongue over a system or process that just isn’t working out, most of us could do with learning how to speak up at work.
According to a DecisionWise Benchmark study, failure to communicate can worsen tension between colleagues, as well as lower productivity and lead to absenteeism and reduced job performance. So, to mark National Conversation Week, here are our top tips on getting your voice heard at work…
Do your homework
If you were hoping to highlight to the senior management team that you feel like certain procedures aren’t up to scratch, make sure that you have an alternative solution to put forward. Putting forward a solution that is straightforward to implement and will have a measurable impact is more likely to be well received – keeping your point clear and concise is the key to speaking up effectively.
Make yourself known
It’s all too easy to take a back seat in a meeting, only to realise that it’s drawing to a close and you have made no contributions. The longer you leave it, the harder it is to elbow your way in to the discussion. In any meeting, aim to speak within the first 10 minutes, even if all you’re doing is tacking some extra information onto someone else’s comments. Although it can be difficult to break that initial barrier, any self-doubt or anxiety will just build up the longer you leave it to speak.
A valuable perspective
Your experiences and knowledge are unique, so you can make valuable contributions using your own insights and perspective. People won’t just automatically know that you want something, or recognise you’d be a valuable asset in an area of the business that you’ve never expressed interest in – you need to tell them. If you just sit quietly and expect people to read your mind, you could be passed up for promotions or be stuck with unfulfilling projects, so it’s time to think about what you really want and let everyone know.
Don’t overthink it
If your difficulties tend to lie in sharing ideas in meetings, it will usually stem from you second-guessing yourself. Don’t get discouraged if you’re not an expert in the subject of the meeting – allow yourself to express your ideas without censoring them too much. Even half-formed ideas could trigger a discussion that leads to bigger things, so don’t be afraid to say what you’re thinking. Not everyone is going to agree with you, but you could receive some valuable feedback that will help you in the future.
It takes time to become comfortable being more vocal at work, but learning how to speak up can help your career immeasurably. Do you have any tips on how to speak up effectively? Let us know on Twitter or LinkedIn and tag #NatConvWeek.