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How to Effectively Voice What You Want at Work

How to Effectively Voice What You Want at Work

How you express yourself at work is a fascinating and complex area. Let us look at the various scenarios and see where you fit in. Are you quiet and withdrawn? Perhaps you talk too much and rarely match actions to words? The secret is to find the right balance and be consistent. This is easily the best and most effective way of expressing what you want at work.

When I was a manager, I hated meetings. Especially those where I had to represent my section. Being naturally shy, it took me ages to overcome my unease when twenty four eyes would swivel in my direction as I started to speak. How I envied the poised, cool colleagues who would speak concisely and intelligently. How I hated the loudmouths who were simply attention grabbers and ass lickers. Luckily, I conquered my inhibitions but it did not happen overnight.

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When you are too quiet at work.

If you decide to keep your head down and not voice your worries, wants, ideas and plans, there is a risk that you will never be noticed! Your work, talents and skills may lie hidden like un-mined gold. That is the great risk you are taking. If you think that by not rocking the boat your manager will appreciate it, you may be wrong. It is not easy though to communicate what you want at work.

If you neglect this area, you are missing out on establishing your own personal brand in the department. In addition, you risk being considered as lazy, uncooperative, sulky, and uncommunicative. Of course, you are not like that at all. Your colleagues and your line manager are getting the wrong vibes and that could well stand in your way when you might want promotion. You will end up being frustrated and unmotivated.

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Are you too talkative?

Maybe you fall into that category where you can express lots of ideas, opinions and project ideas fluently and with great ease. If you cannot match that flood of verbal noise with actions and completed tasks, then you risk being considered a loose cannon.  Not producing the goods could be a major obstacle when looking for promotion. Your verbal output needs to be matched with action and deadlines that are met.

Are you a good listener?

“Never miss a good chance to shut up”. – Will Rogers

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How prepared are you to listen to others as they state their ideas and projects? The art of being a good listener means that co- workers feel valued, their productivity increases and they are more liable to stay in the company. This is especially important when you are in a managerial or team leader role.

How do you know what others are feeling or what their perspectives are on a major issue affecting the company, if you are not listening to them? Being a good listener is the gold standard of effective workplace communication.

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As we have seen, the ideal combination is to be able to give voice to your wants and needs in the workplace while at the same time being a good listener. Getting the balance right may not be easy but here are 10 guidelines to help you be an effective communicator which is the key to promotion.

Communicating at work guidelines

  1. Focus on a solution, rather than a problem. You may have worries about falling sales. Try to elaborate a possible solution to that, rather than complaining about it.
  2. Tell your manager which skills set you are aiming to sharpen or develop. Ask if there are any opportunities within your remit which would match those.
  3. Be aware of your limitations. If a difficult request is going to derail your main objectives, do not be afraid to say so and give the reasons. Accepting tasks which you cannot fulfil will mark you as a loser. It is much better to be honest.
  4. If you have an opinion about possible problem areas, do not be afraid to give your views to your team or your boss. When you are a manager, always seek out views from the team. If you disagree, try asking an open type question such as ‘Can you tell us how that strategy worked with a similar project?’ Never say that something will not work!
  5. Don’t lie when asked if there are any problems. Admit there are problems but explain clearly what is wrong. Avoid virtual communication and go for face to face interaction.
  6. Never undermine or apologize about what you think. Classic phrases such as: ‘I’m just thinking aloud here… but’ or ‘I’d like to take a few minutes of your time’ give a negative impression.
  7. Aim to be concise. Avoid torrents of words. Think about pauses and shorter sentences.
  8. Pay attention to your body language. If the space you occupy is ever smaller, then there is something wrong. Expand your space, unfold your arms and improve your posture. It does wonders for your morale and people will notice you.
  9. Avoid giving advice to colleagues when they have not asked for it. Doing this can give the impression that you know better.
  10. When you listen to an employee who has a problem, make sure that it is all about them, rather than you or the company.

Follow these suggestions to improve your communication skills at work. You will be happier, more productive and positive. You will also be a much more likeable colleague or boss.

How have you managed to voice what you want at work? Let us know in the comments below

Featured photo credit: Manager for a day / FTTUB Federation of Transport Trade Unions in Bulgaria via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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