Getting heard at work: Who gets heard and why?

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There’s a phrase that reads, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. While that concept may sound a bit negative, the idea works well in having your voice heard in the workplace. In a professional environment, it’s no secret that some people are heard more than others. Those who address issues in a timely manner, are confident and demand a physical presence are the ones who not only get heard, but also have influence.

Just to take a step back, why don’t some people have their voices heard? Simply put, they often don’t say anything at all. (Shocking, right?) They assume people understand how hard they work, how they feel, etc. Whether it be because they are introverted or just simply reserved, this is an awful pattern that can lead to passive aggressiveness and frustration. By not voicing ourselves in the workplace, we risk not allowing our colleagues and management to be helpful to us and make needed changes.

Rather than wondering why all the timelet’s turn our attention on how. 

Tips for speaking up. 

While it is encouraged to speak up in the work environment, there are some key tools to help you do so. First, before you speak to someone one-on-one or in a group, make sure you plan out your major points to address. When you are ready to speak, start with that main idea, issue or concern. Think of it as your “theme.” Speak slowly, and use body language where appropriate. People have a tendency to look down when they are put on the spot, so be sure to look at the people around you while you speak.

In addition, make sure you keep any supporting information or reason to about three concise and digestible ideas. If your colleagues interject or want to say something, let them speak but also stay stern on making your points. Last, provide another set of simple yet implementable solutions. This way, your team will think about next steps, and the possibility of your idea or concerns getting shot down will be slim to none. Above all, direct the conversation back to what would be helpful, as that will drive the conversation toward finding a solution.

Make the right approach in speaking up. 

While your concern may be legitimate, there is a right and wrong time to speak up. Think about to whom your words may affect. Is something affecting an entire department, or just you? Draw comparisons as they pertain to people as a whole when applicable, then speak to the head of that department or practice area. If there is a much bigger issue at hand, then that leader can take the issue to upper management, even addressing it at a company staff meeting. If your manager or director gives you the floor during a meeting, don’t be afraid to take control. By speaking to that manager, or mover, to begin with, you don’t overstep anyone and you collectively can take a bigger stride toward making a change.

If your issue is personal or only involves a couple of people, keep it between those involved. Don’t take these smaller issues up to those who have no involvement, and never embarrass anyone by singling them out. Always stay relevant and speak in person, as it moves along much quicker and shows you are confident and have command.

Try it out in a practical way.

If you’re shy about speaking out in the workplace, start small to give you practice. Try something as simple as proposing an idea for a client or project. You could take it a step further and suggest a completely new idea for your department, a fun activity for your company to partake in or even show something you found that would be helpful toward a project or internal aspect. By showing you are aware of things outside of your everyday duties and speaking out about them, you’ll gain practice in having your voice heard. Plus, you won’t feel unprepared when you’re ready to bring up an issue that’s a bit more hot.

This article originally appeared on Your Coffee Break.