Do not be afraid that if you speak up you will lose your job. Not speaking up leads to other risks including damaging your self-esteem, self-confidence (WP link) self-respect, and the respect of others. When you use your voice, you are bringing a lot to the table and earn the respect you deserve.
How you express yourself has a direct correlation to how you are portrayed and treated by others in the workplace. Your voice is your value, and your voice is your identity. Using your voice will help fuel discussion and boost organizational performance. One with a strong voice is asked to lead a meeting, or start a new project.
By using your voice, you are building your own brand and making a name for yourself. You are building a circle of trust among your co-workers, and strengthening your influencing. By using your voice, you are helping provide yourself to a direct path to leadership opportunities and success.
Sharing your opinions will impress your supervisor(s) and co-workers and show that you are engaged. You will become noticed; you will boost happiness and build a reputation for yourself. And, the more that you share, the more you will learn. Finding your voice may be difficult, but it is not impossible. Here are 7 ways you can try to find and use your voice effectively in the workplace:
Nervous? Write it down
If you have trouble articulating your voice effectively, try writing it down first. Write down exactly how you are feeling —hash it out. If it is an issue with a co-worker, write down what they are doing to upset you. Then, take a red pen to paper and underline your key facts. Sometimes it is hard to say everything we want to in the moment; writing everything down gives you the opportunity to regain your focus remember those feelings, and get them off your chest.
Practice what you want to say
Once you have it all written down, get rid of your nervous jitters by practicing saying the words out loud. The more you practice, the easier it will be to actually use your voice at the right time. Try practicing in front of a mirror a few times, or ask a roommate, friend, or family member to role play, and practice with them. Doing so will boost your confidence and help you feel more prepared to share your opinions.
Be Consistent, Clear, Concise
When you are ready to use your voice, make sure your ideas are consistent, clear, and concise. When voicing your opinions, do not ramble or mumble. Be clear, and use short sentences. Avoid using jargon that may confuse others; make your views uncluttered (link WP declutter) and understandable to all. Back up your opinions with facts and experience. Doing so will help build your reputation and win respect from your supervisor and co-workers.
Know the right time and place
Keep in mind of the appropriate time and place to use your voice: in the break room with co-workers eating their lunch isn’t one of them. If you need to have a discussion with a co-use short sentences worker or supervisor, ask them if they can see you privately. They will appreciate that you respected their boundaries and were professional about it.
If there is tension, like during a team meeting, stay silent for a while. Take note of who is in the room, and choose your timing and environment wisely. Be attuned to your surroundings, you will thank yourself later.
Listen first, then speak
During meetings or a conversation with a co-worker, it is important that you hear what others are saying before you speak. Make sure that you fully understand what the person is talking about and then share your opinions. You don’t want to be vocal and discover that you aren’t knowledgeable about the subject. Listen, gather your thoughts, and then speak!
Jenny Ming, chief executive of Charlotte Russe, a clothing chain, find this tip useful. In an interview with the New York Times, Ming said:
“Sometimes when you’re the only woman in a meeting, or one of just a few women in the group, you can feel like you almost have to say something. I think there are women who just want to make sure that they present at a meeting and that people are hearing them. But I think it’s just as important that you listen, because when you listen you get more out of the meeting. Sometimes you’re waiting to talk, and then you’re not listening. You have to balance listening and speaking. Then it becomes more natural.”
Be selective in your responses
Once you have broken down that barrier, it might be tough to control when you use your voice. In the workplace, be selective in your responses. Try not to share your opinion on everything that is discussed; people will start to lose interest, and devalue your input. Keep some opinions to yourself, and sit back and listen to what is being put on the table. Being selective in your responses will only make your input, when given, more valuable. Plus, no one likes a know-it-all.
Be polite —remain tactful
Always keep your tone professional. Don’t interrupt others, raise your voice, or use confrontational language. Be polite and respectful, or anything that you say will be disregarded by others. If you’re in a high tension situation, take some time to gather your thoughts before using your voice. Be sensitive to others and the situation. Being polite will help others respect you, and that is one of the strongest assets a professional can have.