For some of us, the notion of “speaking up” at work may produce feelings of anxiety even if one feels he or she has something of value to impart. There runs those worries, “But what if I can’t explain myself clearly?” or “If I do put in my two cents, what if it’s judged useless or dumb by everybody else?” Such fears may haunt a person to such an extent that he or she never makes the attempt to communicate anything of potential value. Negative feedback is something very few of us seeks to risk.
Nevertheless, it is important, perhaps even vital, to take on such risks. To speak up in the workplace, to have your opinion voiced, to have your concerns addressed may just as likely be applauded by your boss and colleagues. At the least, you will have alerted them to the fact that you sincerely care about the success of the business you share with them.
Move Beyond Your Fear of Speaking Up at Work
Understand this: every innovator… every visionary has, at one time, said something ‘stupid’. In 1961, FCC Commissioner T. Craven said, “There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States.” In 1977, Ken Olson, President of Digital Equipment Corporation said, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.”Even boy wunderkind Steve Jobs said, in a Rolling Stone interview in 2003, “The subscription model of buying music is bankrupt. I think you could make available the Second Coming in a subscription model and it might not be successful.”
No one great idea has ever been carted in without several ‘not-so-great’ideas taking up space alongside. The whole point of brainstorming is to air out all ideas, bad, good, or those in between. If you work for an organization where ‘stupid’ ideas are harshly frowned upon and those who utter them are made to suffer, then you’re not working in a creative, supportive environment, and thereby likely not employed in a business with any chance of real success.
If you still have any heebie-jeebies about letting your insights sing out loud, consider volunteering on a work committee charged with planning and/or presenting a topic or event. You will probably feel more at ease in such a group because, by the very definition of a committee, a) the entire spotlight won’t be on you; and b) you’ll have time to prepare your comments, rather than having to speak ‘on the fly’.