Especially as a woman or minority.
When you’re a woman or minority, speaking up at work can be challenging, difficult and daunting.
At times it can feel like your ideas and feelings won’t be taken seriously or maybe there is a fear that you’ll only be preserving the negative stereotypes about the minority group(s) you belong to.
Here's what you can do to help get your ideas / opinions across and your accomplishments recognized - Despite the bias and inequities you may face.
KNOW EXACTLY WHAT AND WHEN TO SAY IT:
Think about the best time to say what you want. Is there a time during your group meetings to bring up any problems? Or would it be better to have a 1-1 meeting?
Then, plan what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it and rehearse - Ahead of time.
Rehearsing your message out loud will help give you the confidence to say it out loud again when it counts.
Also, be sure to prepare answers in advance to objections, pushbacks and / or rebuttals.
MIND YOUR LANGUAGE:
Be sure to stay away from "Powerless Language".
Instead of saying “I think” or “I feel like,” jump right to your point and state things plainly.
Powerless Language might soften what you’re saying but it can also make you sound less confident.
Also, be concise - The more concise your message, the less time you need to hold people’s attention to get your voice heard.
DELIVERY IS KEY:
90% of how you are heard is not about what you say but HOW you say it.
Your Body Language such as eye contact, gestures and posture, and Voice Modulation such as volume, tone, pacing and speed affect how people hear your message.
For example, if you say something too quietly or with an unsure tone, you might sound like you’re asking for permission, not demanding to be heard.
Record yourself and play it back to watch, paying attention to each aspect of your delivery.
BUILD STRATEGIC OFFICE RELATIONSHIPS:
It's worth getting to know a coworker whose thoughts and opinions are always valued and with whom you feel comfortable sharing your ideas, so they'll have your back.
This may be a long-term friendship, or you could ask for help in certain occasions, such as meetings or presentations, where you know it's hard to be heard.
LEARN TO LET GO OF BEING LIKED:
When you speak up in the office, especially if you're a woman in a male-dominated department or firm, you risk being perceived as unlikable or agreeable.
Just because you're popular doesn't mean you're well-liked.
Women have a strong need to be liked, but that desire will not help you advance in your profession or achieve your objectives if it comes at the expense of sharing your views and opinions.
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