Suppose you are attending an important business meeting in which employees are asked to report on the progress of a faltering initiative for a top client. The boss demands solutions to get the project back on the right track… as the intimidating client sits in on the meeting awaiting answers.
Do you speak up or quiet down? Does the all too familiar feeling of your blood beginning to boil and your blood pressure rising take over as a thought or opinion anxiously awaits release? Or are you more distracted by the fact that time is passing and you still have yet to say anything?
Deciding whether to speak up or to quiet down in the business world is a daily internal challenge. But, this is not an “either, or” situation; rather, a situation of determining the appropriateness of the time. There is a time and a place to either express or stifle your opinions and knowing the difference will define your professionalism and shape how others perceive you.
No matter the setting, we all know speaking up is hard to do. Speaking up puts us in a vulnerable position as it opens us up to judgment. We fear saying something incorrect or asking the wrong questions. But, in order to reach your highest potential, begin acknowledging these apprehensions. If you choose the “stay quiet approach,” ask yourself of the reasoning behind your passiveness. Be sure it is not because you would rather go with the flow. If you stay quiet – you are letting others define you.
Your voice determines the value you bring to your company. You can master the art of managing how and when to say things by considering the following tips for speaking up for career success:
1. Add value. To be sure you are adding to thoughtful conversation, keep the company’s mission and goals in mind when you offer your opinions at your next meeting. You can avoid being the unnecessary noise prolonging business meetings by thinking before you speak.
2. Be able to deliver. Yes, you may have a great idea, but do you have a plan to back it up? If you offer sound advice in a business meeting, you can guarantee the next question coming your way is, “How do you plan on going about that?” Be prepared and think your ides through. Your preparation will not go unnoticed.
3. Fuel discussion. Even if you do not have well-thought-out solution to the problem, you can still contribute to the conversation by asking questions and fueling discussion. You have the ability to get the groupthink rolling. You may not be the problem solver, but you can help your team collectively strategize.
4. Be Consistent. Consistency is extremely important when it comes to speaking up. Being consistent does not mean you are predictable and boring, but rather reliable and considerate of how and when to use your voice.
There is a reason why some people accelerate faster though their career paths than others. Whether you are a born communicator or still looking for your voice, create a voice that represents you. Once your voice is discovered, you will be sought after for future leadership roles. Be the one leading the next meeting, attending important client meetings, and starting new projects. Speaking up can take you there.
Has your voice played a powerful role in getting you to where you are now in your career path? How have you utilized your voice to define your professionalism?
Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, a video powered hiring network that connects job seekers and employers through video resumes and online interviews. Connect with him and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.