If you want to thrive in your career and in your life, you have to speak up. In other words, let others know where you stand, what you think about the situation and what is your proposed plan of action. You need to speak up to create connection, build relationships and trust, or simply let others know you care. Most importantly, you need to speak up for yourself, to build confidence and realize your freedom of self-expression.
There are many places and situations in your life that will require you to speak up. Some of these places are work, home with your family members, when you are among friends, other group discussions and social media. People are often afraid to speak up because they fear to “rock the boat”, or they don’t want to upset someone, or sometimes, because they believe no one would care about their opinion. However, often, you are hurting your relationships and your chances to grow and thrive when you are silent. Let’s look at different situations separately.
Speaking up at work.
When you are at a meeting at work, how active are you in a conversation? Do you often contribute your ideas, thoughts or ask clarifying questions? Or do you sit quietly with the notebook trying to scrabble notes as other people are talking? Or, do you quietly sit in the corner trying to sneak a peek at the clock, hoping no one notices you’d rather be someplace else?
It is a well-known fact that people who speak up at team meetings get much further ahead than the ones who do not. Sharing your ideas and point of view not only shows your ability to see the big picture, it also shows your leadership skills.
What you say matters, how you say it matters more.
Of course, being tactful and appropriate is the key when it comes to speaking up. You don’t want to say something just for the sake of saying anything. Besides, there are times when it is best to be quiet and really take your time before you say anything at all.
When you are angry, frustrated or experiencing any other strong negative emotions, it may be best to take some time to deal with your feelings first before you go out there. You absolutely have the right to speak your truth, especially when you are speaking up against any kind of injustice. But you want to deliver your message in the most powerful way so that it lands. Sometimes that’s hard to do when you are upset.
How you come across when you don’t speak up.
You may be concerned about speaking up because you fear your opinion may upset some people. Or, perhaps you are afraid others will judge you for what you have to say. However, when you don’t speak up, especially if you have something important to say, the consequences are far more damaging.
First of all, people may not trust you if they don’t know where you stand, what your opinion is or even if you have an opinion at all. You may also come across as someone who doesn’t care. If you are afraid that your opinion may be different from the popular opinion, you can still make it known. If you disagree, state your point of view anyway, but be respectful about it. Be respectful, and people are more likely to hear you out and consider your opinion.
Katherine Bouglai is a career transition coach and the founder of Blossom Career. She works with professionals in technology who have recently lost their jobs and are looking for successful career transition. Her specialties include career change, resume development, job search strategies, job interview preparations, offer negotiations and other related skills.