4 ways to shake your fear of speaking up at work
Do you ever wonder when you should share your opinion in the workplace? Maybe you have this great idea, and as you're hesitating to speak, someone else jumps in with your idea — an idea the boss loves! Perhaps you find that the more you share, the less your colleagues and manager listen to you. Either of those scenarios could be an indicator of a problem. Your opinion matters, and your great ideas should be heard — in the right measure and at the right time.
1. Before you speak, listen.
Hear what someone has to say before you speak. Truly listening means you are engaged and seek to understand what the other person is communicating. It does not mean you impatiently wait until the other person stops speaking so you can talk. Furthermore, you can learn as you listen to others, and perhaps through collaboration you can develop a great idea better than either of you could conceive independently.
2. Be willing to change your opinion
If you are open to new information or changes in a situation, you may change your mind. That is a good thing. If you cling to your opinion without exploring new facts and watching as the situations change, you may earn the reputation of being stubborn. Generally speaking, people don’t like to team up with stubborn coworkers.
3. Examine your bias
We all see the world through the lenses of our predispositions. Keep on guard to be sure you are not prejudging a person or jumping to a conclusion about an idea or proposal. Be open to others’ ideas rather than stomping on their ideas based on your perceptions. Give others a chance to share their views. Don’t share your opinion on everything. We all have had a know-it-all at work or in our personal lives. They can be the most annoying people. Nobody can be an authority on every subject. When you share an opinion continuously, it may not be highly regarded — oversaturation will lead to eye rolling.
4. Be brave, and raise your hand
Maybe you're on the other end of the spectrum. Is it difficult for you to contribute your thoughts to a discussion at work? Try to identify what is causing your reluctance. Are you concerned you’ll be shot down? Or maybe you feel your lack of experience means your opinion is less valued. Don’t let any negative thoughts prevent you from participating in the group discussion. You don’t have to share your thoughts in every meeting; however, strive to step out of your comfort zone and speak when you have good information to share.
The bottom line
It's important to share new ideas, information and opinions. There are times when it is helpful to share your opinion, while in other situations it is best to keep your two cents to yourself. Pay careful attention to your personal behavior and office dynamics to understand when it is time to share and when it is time to keep your thoughts to yourself.