Feeling Excluded As An Underrepresented Minority
Starting a new job can be one of the most exciting feelings. We’re in a new role, working with a new team, and feeling confident in the positive impact we can make. Despite having all of the right intentions, we may feel excluded from our team.
Feeling excluded can impact the energy we need to do great work.
Some of this may manifest in feeling ignored or dismissed. This is especially painful when we feel like we have spoken up, shared our idea, and then been left in silence. According to a recent survey, 41% of minorities have felt left out in the workplace.
The key to not feeling excluded is learning how to speak up. Below are three ways we can speak up at work.
1. Clear Communications
We can’t expect others always to keep us top of mind. However, being noticed at work is incredibly important. Clear communications can help us get seen by the right people within our organizations.
Consider the following:
- Filler Words – Filler words are words we use that take up space, but don’t make an impact. For example, words such as uh, um, and ah, are filler words. By reducing our use of filler words, our communications become clearer. Instead of saying, “I, um, believe that um, I can ah, get the job done.” We can say, “I know I can get the job done.” The latter example is clear and shows confidence.
- Be Direct – When we speak up at work, we want to ensure we are being direct. For example, suppose we want to volunteer for a project. We want our boss to understand how much we want to work on this project. We can say, “Georgina, I am very excited about working on XYZ project. I will follow up to get more details.” When we are direct, our message is clear, and there is little room for miscommunication.
- Concise – Often, when we are unsure or anxious about speaking up, our message tends to be long-winded. This can lead to a lot of miscommunications. Instead, we should try to keep our messages concise. For example, when emailing our superior, we can keep everything very high-level. We don’t need to go into great detail. We can say, “Alice, the project is currently at stage two. We are performing cross-checks this week. I will have another update on Friday with the results of the cross-checks.” A clear and concise message will help us stand out at work.
Clear communications will help us ensure our messages are understood by our audience and elevate our executive presence at work.
2. Boost Confidence
Building speaking confidence at work is critical to career success. To be a strong communicator, we need to be confident. There are several ways we can boost our confidence when speaking at work.
Consider the following:
- Remove Mental Barriers – Mental barriers are those negative things we think and say about ourselves. These mental barriers can come from past experiences or self-doubts. When we remove mental barriers, we boost our confidence from the inside out. One way to do this is to turn negatives into positives. For example, suppose we shared an idea with a superior who didn’t use it. Instead of deciding never to share an idea again, we can choose to refine our idea so the next time we have a chance to share; we will be prepared.
- Analyze Ourselves – Another way to boost our speaking confidence is to analyze ourselves. This means listening to ourselves speak and being honest. For example, we can record ourselves speaking. As we watch ourselves speak, we can pay close attention to our tone, body language, and word choice. As we analyze what we see, we can make it a point to improve, boosting our confidence.
- Focus On Our Message – Focusing on our message can help boost our speaking confidence because when we believe in our message, we will be more self-assured when we speak. For example, suppose we are planning to speak up during a meeting. We are anxious, but we know our message has tremendous value. The value of our message will give us the confidence to speak up and share our message with the group.
Building speaking confidence takes practice. However, when we have confidence, we can share our ideas and opinions much more easily.
Speaking up at work is essential for building visibility, which is critical for unlocking more opportunities. However, doing it with tact is important. Here are a few tips to help us speak up for ourselves at work:
- SAW Framework. This is a way to structure our communication and messaging to get others to see what we’re doing and why it matters.
- S – Strong Case – Building a solid case means discussing our accomplishments with others. We have to lead with why others should care. We need to tailor this to our audience. Making a strong case isn’t a one size fits all model. If we can answer the question, “What does the other person care about,” we will gain the ear of others and build a strong case.
- A – Align Objectives – The next is to communicate how our work and accomplishments align with the stakeholders’ objectives. For many, money, time, resources, and deliverables are top of mind. However, if we can call out how our work aligns with our teams and our managers, they will see our value much more clearly.
- W – Why You – Advocating for ourselves must include a “you” element. This is where we now loop in why we were able to accomplish the project and why we were so successful. Don’t be afraid of shining a light on yourself. If not you, who else?
Using communications strategies to speak up can help us collect our thoughts and give a clear message.
Speaking up at work is critical for career success. As underrepresented minorities, it is even more essential to have our voices heard so we don’t feel excluded in the workplace.
Whenever you’re ready, there are 3 ways we can help you:
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