It can be difficult to find your voice in a work environment. Speaking up in a tough conversation requires confidence and preparedness.
Here are some tips to help you find your voice:
They always say that the best writers are also great readers. While this post isn’t specifically addressing how to find your voice as a writer, it holds true that observation will make you a great speaker as well. Listening carefully means you’ll be able to know when is the right time to speak up and how to respond.
When you’re having trouble thinking of the right words, ‘voice’ your opinion with your body language. Standing or sitting more confidently can help you get in the right zone to begin thinking of the words you’d like to express. So when words escape you, start by thinking of how you’d like your physical stance to represent you, and words will likely follow. If you know exactly what you want to say, well then go for it! But still use body language to reinforce your thoughts and help your colleagues take you seriously.
A cliché, it’s true, but this old adage has been repeated for a reason. When you speak words into the world they can never be taken back. So please think very carefully about what you would like to say before uttering it aloud.
Are you better at speaking one-on-one? Or do you like to have a group discussion? Are you a great writer, or do you prefer to improvise? Find out what works for you. Spend some time identifying where your strengths lie and try to think of ways that you can mold situations to fit your strengths.
Before speaking up, consider if your thoughts add value. When people are nervous in a discussion, sometimes they end up repeating the same thoughts. Try to avoid repeating yourself, and instead consider how you can ask more questions. Also be careful to recognize the difference between constructive and just plain mean criticism. If what you want to say is purely negative, don’t say it. Chances are there’s a way to express what you want in a constructive way. Instead of simply criticizing something, offer up a new solution.
Putting in the face time at the water cooler, lunch break, or over coffee will help you in more serious conversations as well. When you have a casual repartee established with your colleagues, you’ll be much more comfortable transitioning into more important topics and discussions.
Ask yourself if the timing is right to bring up a difficult topic. Are the right people involved who need to be? Is it on topic for what you’re focusing on? If something irks you and you need to speak up about it, don’t let it fester, but rather bring it up while it’s still relevant.
Getting comfortable speaking your mind will require practice. Try to be more open and thoughtful with your inner dialogues and in conversations with friends and family. Writing in a journal can help you organize your thoughts and learn how to express them. Try watching lectures or talks and notice what helps the speaker seem relaxed and knowledgeable.
If you’re bringing up a hard topic, then you’ll likely encounter resistance or possibly even be criticized. When this happens, try to remain calm, have patience, and remember to keep an open mind. Always consider that you may have been wrong, and place yourself in the other person’s situation. When you fail to consider their point of view, you’re failing to respect the full complexity of the discussion.
When you’re nervous, it can be easy to just keep on talking. Please try to avoid this. Say what you mean to say concisely and then once it’s out, simply stop talking and wait for a reaction from your listeners. If you ramble on and on it will just dilute your message and confuse your listeners, and maybe even yourself.
When you find your voice, make sure it’s polite. If you’re rude, no one will want to listen to you. When you’re polite, it means you’ll be more careful with your words, so they’ll likely be smarter. Plus people will respect you more and politeness is simply the professional tone to take.
Know what you’re talking about or be humble and ask questions. When you want to present something and talk about it with any sense of passion then make sure you can back it up. If you want to talk about something but are unsure of the facts, ask questions and acknowledge that you need to do more research, and lay out how you plan to do just that.
Speaking your mind is brave. It’s easier for some than others, but with practice, reflection, research, and manners, you’ll be fast on your way to expressing yourself!
How do you find your voice at work? Offer your advice to students and anyone else looking for a career change by sharing your story on UltiCareer to let others know what a day in the life of your type of job is really like!
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