The Importance of speaking up at Work
Many of us sit in countless meetings where we don’t say a word. We have a hard time figuring out how to share our ideas. However, advocating for ourselves is incredibly important.
According to a recent article, not advocating for ourselves in the workplace could cost us our careers and job opportunities.
We often feel like if we put our heads down, do our work, and hope for the best; we will be seen and recognized. Unfortunately, in today’s modern working world, doing those things isn’t enough.
Below are three reasons why speaking up at work is essential for our careers and job opportunities.
1. Increase Visibility
If we want to be seen by the right people within our organizations, we must learn how to speak up. Speaking up will increase our visibility and showcase our strengths. There are several ways we can increase our visibility by speaking up.
Consider the following:
- Meetings – Speaking up during a meeting is a great way to increase our visibility. Before the meeting, we can ask for an agenda to prepare what we want to say. For example, if we see there will be a discussion about a particular project, we can write down a few notes before the meeting begins. Then, we can make it a point to speak up and give our thoughts as soon as the topic is brought up. The more comfortable we are speaking up in meetings, the more comfortable we will become in sharing our ideas and opinions in the workplace.
- Virtual Visibility – Many of us work remotely, which can make increasing our visibility more difficult. However, it is still important for us to be seen and heard by others within our organization. For example, if we have regular company-wide meetings, we should always keep our cameras on. We can also utilize the chat function to react and reply to what the speaker is saying. Doing these things can significantly increase our virtual visibility.
- Volunteer – Putting our heads down and doing our work isn’t enough to get noticed. We have to speak up and do more. We can use our voices to increase our visibility by volunteering for projects. For example, if our boss asks if anyone would be willing to tackle a project, we can volunteer to do it. Or, if we see something that needs to be done, we can come to our boss with a proposal and volunteer to lead the project. Volunteering is a great way to increase our visibility, and gives us a chance to speak up in the workplace.
The more visible we are, the more we will be considered for opportunities.
2. Set Boundaries
It is essential for us to learn how to speak up at work so we can set necessary boundaries. The proper boundaries can prevent us from being overwhelmed and keep us focused.
Consider the following:
- Saying No – Saying no isn’t easy. In fact, it can be challenging, especially if we are saying no to a superior. However, setting a healthy boundary requires us to speak up. For example, if our boss asks us to take on extra work, and we don’t have the capacity, we need to speak up and say no. We can see if our boss can move the deadline so we have more capacity to get the work done. Or, we can see if a colleague can take on the job. The key is to be understanding and mindful of our tone of voice.
- Clear Communication – When setting boundaries, we must ensure we use clear communication. As we learn to speak up, clear communication will help everyone understand our message. For example, if we are setting a boundary about how many hours we can work in a week, we need to be clear and direct in our messaging. Instead of saying, “I’m not sure if I can work this many hours; I’ll have to check and get back to you.” We can say, “I can only work 40 hours this week.” Clear, concise, and direct communications will help us successfully set boundaries.
- Consistency – An essential part of setting boundaries is being consistent. If we aren’t consistent, people may not respect our boundaries, or not believe us when we set them. For example, if we say we don’t check our emails after 6 pm, but then we do, our colleagues may think they can email us after 6 pm all of the time. We have to be consistent in our messaging when we set boundaries for others to take them seriously.
Setting boundaries is a critical part of communication in the workplace. Learning how to speak up and set those boundaries will help us maintain a healthy work environment.
Advocating for ourselves and underrepresented groups is critical in the workplace. To do so, we must speak up.
Consider the following:
- Paving The Way – We may have colleagues who don’t feel comfortable speaking up; this is where we can pave the way for them by using our voices. For example, if we know our colleague has a great idea, but doesn’t know how to share it, we can set them up for success. During the meeting, we can say, “Juliana and I were speaking, and she has a great idea on how to handle the client’s requests.” When we do this, we pave the way for our colleagues to share their ideas.
- Call It Out – Sometimes, advocating is about more than job opportunities and promotions; it is about creating a safe environment for everyone to succeed. This is why if we hear or see inappropriate behavior, we must speak up and call it out. For example, if we hear a microaggression, we can speak with the person who said it and ask them what their intention was. Most likely, they didn’t know they were doing it. When we call out things like this, we create a safe working environment for everyone.
- Body Language – Often, our colleagues in underrepresented groups may exhibit body language we need to pay attention to. For example, suppose we are in a virtual meeting, and we notice our colleague leaning forward like they want to say something, but are not being recognized to speak. In that case, we can take the opportunity to speak up and ask them if they have something to contribute. We can also pause someone speaking and give the other person the floor. When we do this, we enable everyone to feel like their voice matters.
Using our voices to speak up and advocate for ourselves and underrepresented groups will help us positively impact our workplace.
Speaking up at work is essential for us to be considered for job opportunities. Learning how to speak up and when will help us achieve career success.
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