SKILLS DEVELOPMENT / 24 July 2020Soft Skills: Why They are Harder Than You Think and How You Can Acquire Them
is speaking up at work so important you ask?
Well, put yourself in this situation: You’ve come up with a great idea for a project you and your team have been working on. But even though you believe that your idea is solid, you’re too afraid of speaking up. What if your boss doesn’t like it? What if your co-workers don’t agree? If you’re anything like me, you’ve kept your mouth shut in a situation like this, and watched as a colleague proposed a similar idea that your boss loved. While you can view this situation as a complete failure on your behalf, you can also view it as a confirmation that you’re smart enough to have good ideas at work. If this proof isn’t enough to quell your anxieties, here are a few more reasons why you are qualified to speak up and express your thoughts and opinions at work.
Every idea is important: Ever heard the phrase “there is no such thing as a dumb question?” Well, at work, there is no such thing as a dumb idea. This may be hard to grasp but even if the idea is not your best, it can start a fruitful conversation. Talking to your work mates and bosses can lead to feedback and constructive criticism that will help you improve upon your ideas.
Not every idea that you run by your boss has to be 100% flushed out and detailed. Even a half-baked idea might remind your manager about something important they have been meaning to tackle or might start a much needed conversation.
You were hired for a reason: Remember, don’t be so hard on yourself. The truth is that out of all of the resumes and profiles, you were picked and hired because your boss wanted you and your input. So, not only does your boss think you’re smart enough to speak up about the ideas you have, they probably expect you to do it more often.
Let’s get real: No one is going to speak up for you. If you want credit, you have to make the right moves to get it. Yes, it’s frustrating when one of your colleagues spits out an idea that sounds almost identical to something you were thinking about. However, to some extent, it is your fault for not speaking up earlier. So, if you’re feeling inspired and have something to speak up about, it’s up to you to take the initiative and say what’s on your mind. Unless you’re suggesting that everyone in the office deserves a month off to party, you’re doing your entire team a disservice by keeping your mouth shut.
It’s no secret that speaking up to your boss, can be scary, but that doesn’t mean you’re not smart enough to bring up an awesome idea that you’ve got up your sleeve. If you’ve come up with something that could help your team take a step forward, there’s no harm in saying something— so be bold and let everyone know what’s on your mind.
People hesitate to speak up at work for various reasons. Whether it’s shyness, perfectionism, fear of being judged, or fear of contention, there are strategies to overcome them and break your silence:
Give yourself a pep talk: Don’t underestimate the value of your ideas. Before your next meeting, give yourself a little pep talk. Others believed in you (enough to hire you), now it’s your turn to believe in yourself.
Speak now or forever hold your peace: Look for opportunities in each meeting to make your presence known early on. It’s like ripping off a bandaid (but instead of pain, there are benefits). The sooner you contribute, the less time you have to generate self-doubt and the more you stand out to upper management.
Be prepared: Pick out one item on the agenda that’s important to you and prepare in advance. This will help you remain calm, cool and collected when speaking in front of others at work.
Ask away: If coming up with your own topic or idea is too much pressure. You can always engage in conversations and be an active participant by asking relevant questions. Asking questions is one of the easiest ways to get more comfortable with speaking.
Get used to it: Disagreements are inevitable. But points of contention are not always negative. Oftentimes, they can help the rest of the group to think better, create more solutions, and improve the creativity of problem-solving. So don’t hesitate to disagree (respectfully of course). According to Harvard Business Review, “research first published in the Journal of Applied Psychology shows that even when the minority points of view are wrong, they cause the rest of the group to think better, to create more solutions, and to improve the creativity of problem-solving.”
All of these strategies for speaking up take practice but it’s worth the effort. Not only will breaking your silence will help you in your career and life ventures. Have you overcome a reluctance to express your ideas in meetings? How did you do it? Leave a comment below! And keep reading our Career Buzz articles for more helpful tips like these!