Recently, I led a workshop for professional women. As we were sharing our thoughts, the conversation turned to sayings and caveats that many of us heard as little girls. We often heard things like, “Be seen and not heard” and “Don’t talk about yourself” and “Don’t draw attention to yourself.”
These types of statements may be fine for kids, but they can be crippling when we uphold these mottos in the workplace. As you strive to add value on the job, I encourage you to incorporate the following tips into your communication repertoire.
Share your opinion as appropriate
Not being heard will not win you any brownie points. Instead, not speaking up may cause others to see you as not adding value, and a soft-spoken voice may destroy your credibility. There is no need to yell, but you should strive to speak with confidence and volume.
Reclaim stolen ideas
How many times have you expressed an idea with lackluster feedback, only to have a colleague state the same idea to applause? If your idea is introduced by someone else, reclaim it as your own. I used to think that if I did this, I would be seen as power-hungry. I have now learned that adjusting your behavior and response when this happens helps to add to your credibility. Reclaiming your ideas also causes others to think twice before stealing your ideas in the future.
Try to avoid words like “I feel.” Instead begin by referencing a statistic or use strong words like “I recommend” or “The literature suggests…”
Don’t get long-winded; just make your point.
Speak when everyone else is listening
Being heard is more effective than trying to talk over everyone else. If you’ve been in a meeting where there are multiple conversations going on at once, you know what I mean. Pick the right time to speak.
Temper your body language
You want to display your passion about what you’re a talking about. This often includes hand and arm gestures, but in high-level boardroom meetings, it is best to display controlled body language.
Communicating for results and influence requires continuous honing. This is an area that does improve with practice, so look for opportunities to refine this skill.
Tammy McIntyre, M.Ed. is a workforce development consultant providing individuals and small businesses with career development services. She welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.