Pushing Past Fear – Finding Your Voice at Work

Hey there Buckeyes!

Last week, we had a great webinar hosted by the Alumni Career Management staff on “finding your voice” in the workplace.  So many times at work, we find ourselves feeling stifled, unable to bridge the gap between our “professional” selves and our actual selves.  We code-switch, adopting a completely different vocabulary and way of speaking to seem softer and more “mainstream”.  We dress outside of our cultural norms or comfort so that we can appear more “professional”.  We fail to speak up when we need to, or when we should, so that we don’t rock the boat and bring unnecessary attention to ourselves.  We do all of these things to better blend in and go with the flow of our workplace – often to our own detriment.

What I’ve learned about these behaviors is that we often adopt them out of FEAR.  Whether it is because we are afraid of rejection, because we feel intimidated by others around us, we don’t want confrontation, or we just want to blend in – all of those things boils down to one major idea:  we fear what will happen if we open up and let our voice be heard at work.

The thing about fear, though, is that it isn’t real.  Fear is something that we make up in our minds, and unfortunately, it becomes big enough to control us.  But often – actually, almost always – the fear in our head doesn’t match the kinds of things that may actually happen if we simply move past it and let our voices be heard.  So, what can you do to help yourself move past those feelings of fear and apprehension and actively speak up in the workplace?

  1. – Be prepared

Are you afraid to give your ideas in meetings or in one on ones with people on your team?  It may help you to get over that if you do a little prep work prior to the occasion.  Taking about 15-20 minutes to think your ideas out clearly and write them down, before organizing them into a clear and coherent message will do wonders for your confidence.  You could even take your notes with you to the meeting, so that you can refer to them along the way.  Not only does this help you feel more secure when you’re speaking, it demonstrates to those around you that you are invested in what you’re saying and serious about having your input counted.

  1. – Remember that you’re being paid for your opinions and ideas

You were hired to be a sound contributor to your team – to give input and advice from your unique standpoint.  Now, that may not always mean that every idea you give will be received as gold, but it should give you some confidence when attempting to vocalize your thoughts.  Remember that, by virtue of being hired for your position, your supervisors find value in you – leverage that with the potential value your contributions can bring to your team, and speak up to have them heard.

  1. – Volunteer to be involved in changes

If there is something new coming down the pipeline that you have thoughts and ideas about, or if you yourself are suggesting change, then your input will be received much more positively if you demonstrate that you are willing to be part of the work as well.  This is a “put your money where your mouth is” move that is more likely to get people on your side, believing in what you have to say, when you clearly demonstrate that you believe in yourself.

If you want more information about “Finding Your Voice”, check out the replay of the entire presentation here.

Make it a great day!