How to Speak Up (and Be Heard)

Joining a new organization is simultaneously thrilling and daunting. If you are freshly graduates, the opportunities to learn things you didn’t know before will keep you awake at night. But if you have been working before, regardless your previous experiences, being a newcomer sometimes requires you to unlearn the norms of your former job since that may no longer suitable to the new workplace.
However, that’s not always the case, since every company has their own “inefficient ways of working”. Inevitably, you will encounter issues that make you pause and question why your new company does it that way. As a newcomer, many of us would not speak up since we are worried that we might offend someone, especially the senior staffs.
The irony is, while we are trying to hold ourselves back from disturbing other old-timers with our new ideas, we are simultaneously missing out our unique expertise and fresh eyes.
So, what are the proper ways to raise your voice without offending other long-time employees in the company? When it comes to speaking up, this requires you to do more than just coming up with an idea. You’ll need to be confident and persuasive when you make your case, so that your initiative would not be wasted. Here’s how.

𝟭. 𝗣𝗿𝗲𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻: 𝗗𝗼 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗵𝗼𝗺𝗲𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗸.
The first step to effectively speaking up is doing pre-work. Think about who needs to hear your idea or opinion, and why would it matter to them. Speak with other team members, peers, or mentors who have been around longer to gain their perspective before bringing your idea to your boss (or another stakeholder).

𝟮. 𝗔𝗽𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗽𝗿𝗶𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀: 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘁𝗶𝗺𝗲 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗰𝗲.
Not all ideas have to be shared at a formal meeting. Sometimes, a lunch with the team member or a coffee catch-up with your boss is a better option. When considering the time and place to speak up, think about the following:
• Is it an appropriate time for you to speak to that person? Are they struggling with a difficult project that needs their attention more?
• Who else needs to be around to amplify your ideas and to give it credibility? Are they available?
• Is it the kind of idea that will catch your boss by surprise, and should be shared privately? Or would it be “on topic” to bring it up in a group setting, like a brainstorming?

𝟯. 𝗛𝘂𝗺𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆: 𝗕𝗲𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗵𝘂𝗺𝗯𝗹𝗲.
Humility is manifested through the way you listen to people about the matter, and the way you speak up.
If you want to be well received, you need to communicate your idea in a deliberative, open, and respectful manner without dominating the discussion. One way to do this is to actively listen. By letting other person share their opinion before making a suggestion, you possess a greater chance to be listened by them.
When it comes to speaking up, there is a thin line between being doing it in a way that’s inclusive versus overpowering.
Overpowering happens when you hold your ground, think of your idea as the best idea, and turn your back at criticism. On the other hand, an inclusive voice shows both confidence and humility. Confidence means that your arguments and logic are backed by supporting rationale, evidence, facts, and persuasive examples. Humility is shown by presenting your idea as an alternative, sharing the pros and cons, and connecting it back to the larger team goals. To practice humility, use collective pronouns such as “we/us/our” versus personal references such as “I/my.”
Source: Harvard Business Review

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