Do you know anyone at the office that has great ideas and insight but holds them close instead of sharing because they’re not fans of the spotlight? You’ve probably seen your fair share of co-workers who bite their tongue instead of expressing themselves for fear of repercussions.
There have been many new experiences in the job arena since the pandemic, but strains in the workplace regarding communication aren’t new obstacles to maneuver around. Your voice can have an impact, but with words and delivery alone capable of sabotaging meaning and intent, the list of reasons to stay silent can go on and on.
For some, speaking up in the workplace can come naturally, whether to share something they’ve learned or heard about or ask for direction when unsure of how to get the job done. For others, the effort-to-result ratio doesn’t quite balance out or can even be entirely out of sight.
If you notice someone’s flying over a hurdle you feel stuck behind, speaking up and asking questions can lead to gaining guidance and tips that will help you overcome professional challenges. Or better yet, if you see someone overwhelmed with a difficult task or project and you have advice that could help or at the very least reduce stress, why not share it?
There are times when even high performers get stuck and require assistance. And who knows, you may not be the only silent struggler. Your initiative has the potential to help not only you but others as well. Consider the timeless phrase, “sharing is caring.” One question could be the solution to several different teammates’ problems.
When teams and businesses can build their people up by having an open exchange of advice and guidance, everyone succeeds.
Regardless of the topic, approaching a conversation shouldn’t feel like suiting up for battle. Only uncertainty needs conquering when chatting with a co-worker, team or department, or any higher-ups. It’s critical to maintain a level of courtesy and civility in the workplace.
When voicing a concern, challenging an opinion, or suggesting changes to a process, be mindful that many internal and external factors can influence and prevent understanding.
With this in mind, there’s no need to bump heads because of miscommunication. The office isn’t really a place to be “settling any scores,” and no HR department should have to de-escalate quarrels over simple misunderstandings.
Though there’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to guidelines for office dialogue, a golden rule is: If taking time to speak, give it back for equal footing in any conversation.
It can be difficult to voice opinions when you fear the reactions of your peers or the potential risks your words may bring in the future. And few things are as uncomfortable in the workplace as over-stepping, over-divulging, or over-complicating chats and causing unnecessary confusion.
But even with these obstacles in place, there’s a silver lining. Try to remember that facing challenges in general between co-workers, departments, and even management is part of adapting our personal comfort for more professional resolutions and outcomes.
No matter the reason for speaking up, it all boils down to respect and professionalism. Respect for yourself, the people you work with, and the company you represent while on (and off) the clock. And a professional mindset and attitude that is expected in the workplace.
Companies that support, listen, and encourage speaking up have the recipe for a positive work environment. Providing positive feedback and constructive criticism, and practicing active listening at all levels within the corporate ladder is a great way to promote healthy engagement.
Employees want to feel respected and be part of a company culture that values open communication, transparency, and mutual respect. And each member of an organization has a critical role to play in maintaining those values.
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