Many of us have encountered uncomfortable situations at work and have been unable or unwilling to speak up and deal with the conflict transparently. It could be that you wish you could be honest with your boss that the timeline they set for a certain project is not feasible, orit could be that your coworker dominates meetings and does not allow time for others to speak and be heard.
However, instead of dealing with the issue, we either sweep it under the rug or only discuss it privately with trusted peers — allowing the same scenario to play out over and over.
It's time to muster up the courage to bring the passive-aggressive text messages, emails, and water cooler conversations front and center. This may seem daunting, but if you follow the four steps outlined below, it will help you achieve the desired result.
You have to lead with confidence if you want to courageously speak up at work. If you are struggling with how to exude confidence, try this: Be Captain Obvious. Exaggerate the situation and say something like, “Call me Captain Obvious, but isn’t that proposed solution not really going to address the problem?” It may sound funny — but that’s the point! This approach adds a bit of humor to the situation, while breaking the ice and allowing others to chime in with their concerns.
The next step is intent. Intent means knowing and understanding that by speaking up you want to address a problem or change a situation.
Here’s the key with intent: If your intent is positive, it’s more likely that your message will actually be received with an open mind. If you are not trying to help solve a problem or are speaking up for reasons or motives that are not genuinely in the spirit of teamwork, it will be transparent.
Next is delivery. Delivery is about how you decide to frame the message. Successful delivery should be factual, real, and it must always take the receiver's feelings into account. In short, tactfulness is required when delivering your message.
Finally, we should always strive to seek a solution. We can’t dwell on the problem or waste an entire meeting hashing out why it won’t work or how we got to where we are now. We need to identify and clearly state the problem and immediately start brainstorming solutions.
The best organizations are made up of people who have the courage to tackle the tough topics. These conversations are critical, so by being open and honest, we are helping ourselves and our organizations.
Call me Captain Obvious, but isn’t that the kind of place you want to work?
Want to learn more? Watch my TED Talk around this blog: 4 Steps to Kickstart Honest Conversations at Work