A quick Google search on “how to speak up at work” would fetch you around 1,00,00,00,000 page results full of self-confidence secrets and tips. It’s clear that like you there are thousands of people hesitating to speak up at work. Being able to speak candidly may seem like a simple concept, but it can be complicated. Whether it’s a good idea or opinion, asking for a pay rise, calling out toxic behavior, or reprimanding a coworker, speaking up is how we can go after what we want at work.
But equally, not being able to speak up at work causes frustration, and can even hold you back in your career.
Why don’t we speak up at work?
There are several reasons why people are reluctant to voice their opinions at work more effectively. Perhaps we’ve learned not to rock the boat, we fear being publicly reprimanded, or we think that nothing will change even if we do pluck up the courage to speak out. Or we may think practically that speaking up will be career-limiting for us. So we withhold our voice.
Being able to speak up is a key skill employers are looking for in employees for leadership positions. Here are three useful tips on how to speak up at work.
Find your voice
First, you need to write down what you’re going to say. Start with what the key messages you wish to get across in the room. You are not preparing a script, but this homework helps you be succinct and clear. It also helps you overcome mental inhibitions and choose the language you wish to use.
Remember to speak slowly.
If you’re nervous, rehearse what you plan to say in front of a family member or friend so you know you are projecting yourself the way you wish to.
Choose your medium
Smaller matters, such as fixing a typo or suggesting who should organize your next Fun Friday party, can be easily handled over Slack and Zoom. However, serious topics, like a workplace conflict with the boss or a discussion about your performance, are better left to in-person talks.
A face-to-face conversation would help you not miss out on nonverbal cues. While this isn’t that big of a deal if the topic is trivial, it matters when it comes to serious workplace discussions.
We often withhold ourselves from speaking up at work because we feel we don’t have all the knowledge on a subject matter. Just because you do not know enough or don’t have all the answers, doesn’t mean you mustn’t contribute to meetings altogether.
You can choose to admit when something is unclear, and chances are that someone else is feeling the same way. Not only would this allow you to understand what is going on, but it would also demonstrate your desire to learn and develop in the workplace.
Make the most of the opportunities that allow you to put your best foot forward at work. It’s easy to shy away from contributing at meetings, but it’s also important to be proactive. Working through the above considerations will help you overcome your fears and learn how to speak up at work without sounding impolite, unprofessional, or not too pushy.