Speak up at work

It doesn’t always come naturally, and for some it can be frightening, but you do need to learn how to stand up for yourself in the workplace, if you want to build your career and confidence. 

It is important if you want to get ahead at work that you are able to present your ideas and argue your corner. This ability is probably as important as having good ideas in the first place. If you can’t do it, your hard work and talent may well go unrecognised and unrewarded. Here are a few key pointers.

Construct a business case
Whether you’re suggesting a new social media strategy or angling for a pay rise, put your commercial hat on and gather evidence that supports your point of view. This could range from effective strategies you have observed elsewhere or recent successes you’ve had at work. If you present an argument that’s backed up with relevant data; statistics or examples of quantifiable contributions you have made to the company, it will be easier to convince people of your ideas.

Know your audience
Find out who the people you need to convince are and what their agendas might be. Put yourself in their shoes – is the person who has the final say in signing off on your idea trying to meet a target? Are they dealing with a sudden change in management? Or worried about the safety of their job? An obvious but often overlooked truth is that the success of your ideas will depend on your ability to understand other people’s needs.

It is also important to make sure you’re talking to the right person. If you are in a relatively junior position, there might be a few levels between you and the decision-makers in your company. If that’s the case, make it as easy as possible for whoever is acting as a go-between to sell your idea further up the chain. Put together a short, simple presentation or a case study, and try to pre-empt and address any resistance they might face. Make their life easier and they are more likely to look favourably on your idea.

Watch your language
So, you are prepared, but the way you present your ideas is as important as the ideas themselves. Whether you do it consciously or unwittingly, littering your sentences with caveats and apologies in an effort to seem more agreeable is a sure-fire way to undermine your credibility. Qualifiers like, ‘I might be wrong on this but …’, or, ‘… does that make sense?’ don’t scream confidence. The same goes for using the word “just” as a way to soften the impact of your words. Instead of saying ‘I just feel like’, say ‘I think’; instead of ‘I was just wondering …’ ask ‘Can you let me know?’. Do not apologise for having the audacity to have an opinion.

Speak up
If you are naturally shy about speaking up in meetings, one trick is to say something at the start, even if that’s simply a matter of joining in the pre-meeting small talk. Often, the longer a meeting goes on without you having said anything, the more pressure you feel to impress with whatever you do eventually say, which can make you clam up even more. So break the ice early on. It’s a figurative and literal throat-clearing, so the sound of your voice doesn’t come as a surprise, either to you or to the rest of the room.

Pay rises:

Sam DeMase has started her own course on job confidence and she demonstrates the ‘key steps’ you can take while requesting a salary increase via the medium of TikTok.

The American author/entrepreneur, says the most important thing is to be well prepared before approaching your boss about a raise.

She says you should, ‘write down your accomplishments and the ways you’ve impacted the business’ and bring ‘colleague feedback’.

So far, so American.

She also suggests doing ‘research’ on your ‘market rate’ and to practise out loud a bunch of times beforehand. A bunch of times.

Her snappily titled book, ‘Power Mood: Unlock Your Confidence, Transform Your Life, and Command Your Value’, also reveals some nuggets of things you should say when it comes time to have that hard conversation, such as:

‘’The scope of my role has increased in the following ways…’ or, ‘I am working outside my job description in the following ways…’ or, ‘Here are the ways that I’m making an impact on the business at a high level…’

She advises against stating things like: ‘I’m doing the work of two people,’ or; ‘So-and-so makes more than me’ when it comes to the time to discuss the thorny issue of remuneration.

Talking to HR about the salary range for your role might also be a good idea, Sam suggests, somewhat hopefully.

Sam also shared some advice for negotiating your salary before getting hired. 

‘Don’t say, “You’re offering me the role? I accept.” Do say, “I look forward to looking at the details of the compensation package and getting back to you,”‘.

‘Don’t say, “I’d really prefer to be at $90K.” Do say, “Can we get my salary closer to $90K? That’s where I’m at in terms of my market value and my experience level.”

‘Don’t say, “I’d really hate to lose out on $30K in equity from my current workplace.” Do say, “I have $30K in equity that I’ll be leaving behind in my current work place, can you match that via sign-on bonus?”

The US career coach added: ‘It’s important to advocate for yourself. Employers expect you to negotiate.’

In one more clip, Sam reminded her followers to ‘never verbally accept a job offer right away.’

‘You need to review everything first and reserve your right to negotiate,’ she suggested. 

‘Instead of saying, “Amazing, I can’t wait to start, I accept,” here’s what you’re going to say: “This is great news and I’m excited about the opportunity and thank you. When can you send me over the details so I can review everything and get back to you?”‘

What a load of Tik Tok tosh.


On Topic

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We will fight for a world where everyone feels safe, valued, able to grow, and be inspired by their role and the organisation that they work for. And that starts with us…