Executive Coaching Articles

Speak Up at Work to Enhance Your Work Career and Job Advancement

I ran across an interesting statistic the other day. According to management researchers Kathleen Ryan and Daniel Oestreich, 70 percent of the people they studied from various industries and job titles were afraid to speak up at work for fear of repercussions.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that number is so high, especially during these difficult times when everyone is so paranoid about losing their jobs. But, from my experience working with clients and companies, I’ve learned that the best time to speak up is when times are tough. Companies are desperate for ideas and ways to generate new revenue, improve customer service, streamline operations and reduce expenses.

The key is knowing how to speak up and using the techniques I outline in the article below. I encourage you give them a try. The next time you find yourself hesitating to offer an opinion or suggestion at the office, don’t hold back. Now, more than ever, is the right time to enhance your work career and job advancement. There’s more upside — and less downside — than you think.

Recently, a client confessed to me: “I have difficulty asserting myself to my boss and co-workers and often feel inferior. What can I do?”

My client isn’t alone. We’re taught early in life to be polite and to not be arrogant or conceited. However, having a healthy view of your strengths and being able to convey them to your superiors is neither conceited nor arrogant. You need to learn to do this to set boundaries, to get promotions and raises and to gain respect for your talents.

Here are some ways to help you speak up at work in order to enhance your work career and job advancement:

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  1. Know Your Strengths. Consider projects you have worked on and what gifts and talents you used to make them a success. Look at your daily tasks and see what strengths are manifested there. List all of your achievements and accomplishments no matter how small they may seem. Seeing them in front of you will help to remind you just how much you truly are capable of. Then look at what you are good at and truly love to do.
  2. Focus On What You Do Best. Find ways to create work around these things. Communicate with your employers so you can focus on what you are best at. Keep your focus. Remind yourself often of what you are good at and focus on how to increase it.
  3. Set Goals and Review Your Successes. Schedule weekly or monthly appointments with yourself to review your successes and look at how you’ve contributed. Set goals to use your gifts more effectively and more frequently in your work.
  4. Be Positive, Optimistic. Once you get in touch with your strengths, you will gain confidence and allow them to come forward. It will be easier for you to ask for what you want. If you stay focused in fear, you will remain stuck and not be able to assert yourself. Focus instead on the positive, empowering feeling that comes from knowing your strengths and what you contribute to the company and you’ll find it much easier to move forward. Remember, if you don’t believe you are capable of something, how can you hope to convince anyone else that you are?
  5. Don’t Be Afraid of Conflict. It’s okay to disagree. Just don’t be disagreeable. Be respectful. Be a good listener. Focus on facts, goals and objectives and not personalities. Try to find areas of agreement and build on them.
  6. It’s Okay to Say “No.” When you feel someone is imposing on you, explore other options with them. Find out what they want or need and offer suggestions or possible trade-offs. For example, “I’ll put together the budget figures for you if you handle next month’s safety meeting.” Look for ways to turn a “losing” situation into a solution that benefits everyone. It’s okay to say “no” and it may actually increase productivity.