Addressing Communications Challenges
Speaking up at work is crucial for building visibility and unlocking opportunities. But let’s face it, navigating the challenges of the workplace, including different personalities and expectations can be tough. If you are a minority, it can feel even more frustrating because we often find ourselves juggling different cultural expectations as well. While it’s not always easy, there are ways to address these communication challenges.
According to a recent survey, over 50% of employees feel uncomfortable speaking up at work.
Here are three strategies to help you out.
1. Identify The Duality
When you feel stuck and unsure about what to say or do, it’s helpful to explore your own dualities. According to Jessica Chen, dualities are conflicting expectations of how to show up, how to communicate, how to engage that may be different from what you were taught at home or in school. To explore your dualities, start by asking yourself some questions to uncover the underlying conflicts that may cause friction. For example, the cultural, societal, and personal expectations that you may have unconsciously placed on yourself. Reflect on what you were taught and whether those teachings align with achieving success in the working world today.
Consider the following:
- Expectations – We all have these cultural, societal, or personal expectations that we may not even realize we’ve placed upon ourselves. For instance, growing up, we might have been taught to keep our heads down and diligently work without questioning. We believed that if we followed this path, our hard work would be recognized by our managers, leading to a well-deserved raise or promotion. However, as we navigate the complexities of today’s modern working world, we’ve come to realize that things have changed. We now see that this old mindset might not align with the reality of how success is achieved. It’s time for us to acknowledge the dual nature of our existence, where our cultural conditioning clashes with the demands of the present.
Looking at how things are matching up, whether expectations are meeting reality, can offer a glance into what’s going on, and that’ll form the building blocks of approaching speaking with more strategy.
Once you’ve identified your dualities, it’s crucial to shift your mindset. Don’t let outdated expectations or what you’ve been taught hold you back. Turn limiting statements into questions to open up possibilities and counteract self-doubt. Shifting your mindset to lead with curiosity will help you think more optimistically.
Consider the following:
- Limiting Beliefs – We all have beliefs that may limit us in some way. For instance, those moments when we hesitate to speak up during a meeting. It could be because we were raised with the notion that we should only speak when spoken to. That kind of ingrained belief can make it tough for us to express our ideas and contribute to discussions. It’s all about changing the narrative and believing in our own potential.
- Labeling – Labeling is a powerful technique that can help us transform our limiting beliefs into something more empowering. It’s all about reframing negative thoughts that can creep into our minds. Instead of letting them hold us back, we can give them a name or label to make them easier to identify and deal with. Let’s say we find ourselves having negative thoughts about giving presentations. In this case, we can call this negative thought the word, “spinach.” Yes – silly! When a negative thought about presentations pops up, we can now immediately recognize it as the “spinach” talking. By doing so, we create a mental trigger that prompts us to shift our focus and replace those negative thoughts with a more positive one.
- Turn Thoughts Into Questions – A lot of us struggle with limiting thoughts that hold us back from speaking up or seizing new opportunities. These thoughts often take the form of statements that discourage us. But what if we flipped the script and transformed these statements into questions? It might sound simple, but it can be a powerful technique. Instead of thinking, “I’m going to fail,” we can ask ourselves, “How do I know I will fail?” By posing this question, we challenge our negative assumption and leave room for a more positive outcome.
When we embrace this mindset shift, we open ourselves up to a world of possibilities and break free from the constraints of dual thinking.
3. Challenge Ourselves
Speaking up is essential for being heard, building credibility, and staying top of mind. Although it may go against your cultural norms or what you’ve been taught, it’s important to challenge yourself and take small steps forward. Start by speaking up in meetings, sharing your ideas within the first five minutes to overcome nerves. Compliment others’ contributions to foster a supportive environment.
Consider the following:
- Meetings – It’s important to speak up within the first five minutes to keep your nerves from getting the best of you. One simple way to do this is to ask for the meeting agenda beforehand and plan out what to say. Here’s a simple yet effective strategy: giving a compliment at someone who just spoke, like “Hey, Jenn, great idea! Thanks for sharing that.” It’s a great way to have others hear your voice and to be engaged in the meeting.
- Build Relationships – Another way to push yourself is by forging connections with colleagues beyond your own department. It’s a great opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and engage in conversations with individuals who you don’t typically interact with. One excellent approach to achieve this is by actively participating in company events. You can strike up conversations with new faces, perhaps someone you’ve never collaborated with before. By doing so, you will expand your network and unlock a multitude of possibilities.
When we challenge ourselves to speak up in diverse situations, we’ll notice a remarkable boost in our confidence and how we present ourselves in the workplace. Remember speaking up is not only important for your own growth but also for creating positive change in your workplace.
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