Many people struggle with speaking up in various contexts. In particular, in the work environment this becomes detrimental to their career and holds back the business because teams don’t speak up, projects don’t move forward, and mistakes are made along the way.
What can you do?
There are four major reasons why people don’t speak up
- They feel what they have to say is not good enough, important enough, clever enough
- They think that this is not the way things are done here, or they feel they have to respect their boss, or this is just not who they are.
- They think they are alone with what goes through their mind
- They don’t see it as their job to speak up and expect that others will do along the way
But speaking up, does not only show that someone takes initiative, that they contribute, and participate which ultimately will increase their visibility and result in massive success.
There is no better way for someone to demonstrate to their peers and to their bosses, and everyone around them for that matter, that they actually CARE about what’s being discussed and what’s being said.
Here are four ways to speak up more even if you are a bit less outgoing and initially less comfortable giving your thoughts a voice:
- “Package” what you want to say as your view, not as a fact
- Focus on the positive
- Don’t say something, ask something
- Watch out how you ask, avoid using “why” and coming across judgmental
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT AND QUOTES:
Hi everybody. It’s Tasso.
Today we’re going to tackle a very important topic. The topic of how to be more challenging. The topic of how to speak up more. I’m going to tackle this from a perspective of the work environment, because I believe this is where people struggle most.
People struggle with this, their bosses struggle with this, because their teams don’t speak up. So projects don’t move forward, and mistakes are made along the way. Injustice happens when people don’t speak up. What can you do?
Before we go into the details of what you can do, maybe let’s have a look at what the reasons are why people don’t speak up. What are the main reasons why this does not happen? I came up with four, that I would like to share with you.
Reason number 1 for not speaking up
Number one reason that I could think of why people don’t speak up, is because they feel what they have to say is not good enough. What they have to say is not ready for sharing, it is not thought through. It’s just not there yet, to be shared with the world.
They think more of the consequences, like what they could loose, their credibility, or the respect of their boss, or of their peers, rather than thinking about, “What can the team gain if I actually speak up?”
I have tackled this before in a blog when I talked about perfectionism, because perfectionism is rooted in the same thing, i.e. you don’t feel what you have to share is good enough. However, you need to think about the fact that, actually you are not the one that can judge the impact of your idea on the world.
The only thing you are responsible for, is that you are passionate, and convinced about what you want to say. You don’t talk just for the sake of talking, but you need to be convinced. You need to be absolutely behind what you want to say, and this is why you should be speaking up.
Now if you find yourself in that position, that you actually find your idea is not good enough, or it’s a crazy idea, I wanted to share with you a couple of, let’s say funny stories, for you to be more comfortable to actually share an idea, and let the team do the rest.
Here are those stories.
Take a look at Facebook. Facebook came into a world that already had social networks. They said, “Let’s make yet another social network. And you know what? We’re going to limit it to Harvard students, to these antisocial Ivy Leaguers. And you know what? People are going to follow, because Harvard students are so cool.”
Or take Amazon. Amazon said, “We’re going to sell books online. And you know what? We’re going to ask people to pay with their credit cards,” in an era where people were afraid to use their credit cards online. People will do this out of convenience, even if they have to wait for a week to get a book. Instead they could go to the bookstore and get the book right away, and save even some shipping costs, but no. Where is Amazon now?
Or look at Spotify. Imagine somebody standing up in a meeting and saying, “Let’s not make people only pay for something that they own. Let’s make them pay to rent music. And you know what? When they stop paying at some point of time, they don’t have anything anymore. Everything they were able to access is lost.”
Now with these examples, I wanted to show to you that there is no such thing as a crazy idea.
I want to share with you something else, from the movie space. This is something so crazy, that I did not even believe it at first. I had to Google it. Imagine somebody stands up in a meeting and says, “I think we should make a movie with sharks in tornados. The idea being, that tornados pick up sharks from the sea, so that they can reach the cities, and can eat people.”
The movie is called “Sharknado”. (Of course, how else would the movie be called?) Imagine there is Sharknado 1, Sharknado 2, Sharknado 3, and Sharknado 4.
You can not possibly judge how good your idea will be. The only thing as I said in the beginning is, you need to be passionate and convinced about what you want to say. Let the team do the rest.
Reason number 2 for not speaking up
Reason number two is more cultural and environmental. It’s when people think that this is not the way things are done here, or when they think, “I have to respect my boss. The boss knows better,” or when they think, “This is just not who I am.”
Let me challenge you here. Ask yourself, who do you want to be. Ask yourself, why you are where you are, and why you do what you do. Why did you take the job in the first place? And also ask yourself, why did the company hire you? They hired you to add value, not to just fly under the radar and keep silent.
Reason number 3 for not speaking up
Reason number three is when people say, “You know what? I might be alone with this idea.” Again ask yourself, “What if not?” What if there are many other people who think alike? What if the only thing it takes in order to create a revolution, to create a snowball effect and make things better, is just a catalyst?
Why can YOU not be that catalyst?
Reason number 4 for not speaking up
Reason number four why people don’t speak up, is because people feel, “You know, this is going to show up along the process. People will find out anyway. I don’t need to mention this. I don’t need to speak up in this regard.”
You know what? What if not? Imagine the harm that you can do, if you don’t speak up when you, for instance, realize a mistake. Don’t ever forget that in meetings, and in the corporate environment, silence is always taken as approval. If you don’t say anything, it is as if you agreed to this.
Now, I have mentioned many times before, that I believe the single most important thing that can make you stand out, that can make you move forward and boost your career in any organization, is to take initiative. If you take initiative, if you contribute, you will increase your visibility. This is something that will give you a massive success. I really believe it.
But even if you get these benefits out of speaking up, they’re not the main reason for you to speak up. This is just a bonus that will come along, when you do the right thing. This is what happens everywhere in life. When you do the right thing, the success and the money will follow.
That’s not the right reason.
The only reason and the main reason why you should speak up, why you should contribute to the discussion, and why you should give your thought a voice, is BECAUSE YOU CARE!
There is no better way for you to demonstrate to your peers and to your bosses, that you actually care about what’s being discussed and what’s being said. That you are a contributor and not just a spectator. If you don’t speak up, it’s like you would say, “I don’t really care in which direction this goes.”
This would be really sad. Imagine what this says about how you value yourself, and how you value your insights and your intellect.
Now, having said all this, (1) having gone through the reasons why people don’t speak up, and (2) having given you also the reasons why you SHOULD speak up, let’s have a look at WHAT you can do, and HOW you can do it.
Of course, there are always both sides of the story. Both the people in the organization and the organization itself, need both to take steps. The organization needs to remove barriers. They need to create an environment of trust, an environment where people don’t fear the consequences, where they encourage contribution, and they reward ideas.
People have to come together, and to actually define the rules and the agreements together. I’m not talking here about generic things, and formal processes like suggestion boxes. It’s really about a cultural shift. This has to happen from the organization’s perspective.
But clearly, if you wait for the organization to do this, you can as well wait for world peace.
What you can do is take the initiative, and do what YOU can do. You have to start with the man in the mirror, or the woman in the mirror. Here is what you can do, in order to become better at speaking up and challenging.
Number one: package it as your view, not as a fact.
When you want to speak up and say something, say this is how it makes you feel, or how you understood it. Don’t state it as a fact. People attack very easily, when they’re attacked on their facts.
Position it as if it were your view, your perspective how you see things. How can anybody possibly disagree, if you say this is how you understood it?
Number two: focus on the positive.
People are very vulnerable if they present something, if they open up with something.
As you would not want it to happen with you, don’t go out there and say, “No. That’s crap. I don’t think we should do it this way.” Focus on the good things. Say things like, “I think that’s a great idea. And if we would do this instead, or this on top, this is what I believe we can achieve.”
Focus on the positive, and build on the positive. I think this is going to make the whole team feel valued, the person who presented the idea feel valued.
Number one, as I said, package it as your view. Number two, is focus on the positive.
Number three is don’t say something, ask something.
Be more inspiring. Ask a question to trigger thoughts of the team. Don’t necessarily try to put your idea forward.
Ask things or say things like, “What if we did this? How about the impact, if we would do this?” Really ask and frame things as a question, because this will make you not attackable, and this will open up the minds of the people in the room to make things better.
Number four: watch out how you ask, avoid using “why”.
“Why” in the sense of “Why are we not doing this? Why have you done this?”.
Although “Why have we not tried this” is sometimes very good and positive, it can be perceived as judgmental.
It can force the other person to need to justify themselves. If you ask somebody, “Why did you not do this?”, YOU might think this from the perspective of, “Here’s something else you could think of,” but this person will feel, “Oh my God. They identified the flaw. They identified the thing that I did not look at.”
These are the things that you can do to improve speaking up.
I hope that this video gave you some insights and some inspiration around the value of speaking up, why you should give your thought a voice, why you should dare to say things, and also maybe some ideas and some ways on how you can best do it if you’re not very comfortable with it.
I hope you liked it. If you liked it, please subscribe for more. Forward it and sent it to people, who you feel might be interested in this, and actually might benefit from this.
Thank you very much for watching this. I wish you a wonderful wonderful day. Until the next blog post, all the best.