4 Tips For Speaking Up For Workplace Respect


A recent study by Cameron Anderson and Gavin J. Kilduff reveals that people who speak up and act dominant are perceived by others as being competent until proven otherwise. In the workplace, voicing opinions can be essential career advancement and success.

For many people, however, speaking up in the workplace seems like a worse punishment than a stagnant career. Public speaking regularly makes an appearance on top fears lists and is commonly avoided by introverted personalities who are naturally very shy.

But the workplace doesn’t have to be a daunting place for professionals who aren’t typically comfortable voicing opinions. Check out the following tips I’ve compiled for speaking up to earn your due respect in the workplace.

Don’t Over Think What You’ll Say

Refining and organizing your thoughts before you express them is a wonderful idea, but professionals who are shy about voicing opinions often develop fear when doing so. They’ll have a great idea to contribute but suddenly can’t find the perfect words to describe it, so they’ll allow the opportunity to speak pass them entirely, and an extroverted coworker will present another sometimes inferior idea and receive praise.

When it comes to voicing opinions in the workplace, don’t worry about expressing your idea in the perfect way, just breathe deeply, clear your throat, and say it. Stumbling over words will be forgiven, especially if they idea is really spectacular. Plus, if you find yourself abruptly stopped by an inability to find the perfect word while speaking, coworkers are there to offer suggestions to get you back on track.

Express Agreement And Disagreement

Whether it’s a meeting or just an informal group brainstorm in the workplace cafeteria, professionals with introverted personalities are unlikely to be the first to speak. But that’s OK; they don’t have to speak first to be heard. Just because it’s difficult for them to be the first to jump in the pool doesn’t mean they can’t swim.

If you find it difficult to speak up first, feel free to first enter the conversation by expressing agreement or disagreement to a coworker’s idea, especially if it’s similar to the one you brainstormed. Jump into the conversation with, “I agree with your idea because,” or “While your suggestion is excellent, I disagree because…” You may have a unique perspective on the idea your coworkers hadn’t considered or overlooked. Entering the conversation in this way gives shy professionals the opportunity to steady their voices and resolve and contribute more to the conversation.

Think What’s The Worst That Can Happen

Professionals who are fearful of voicing opinions in the workplace often suffer from illusions of grandeur. There are plenty of examples in cinema of professionals speaking up in the workplace only to be heavily embarrassed or fired on the spot. But these are dramaticized situations; speaking up in the workplace is highly unlikely to result in the same treatment in the real world, even if the idea presented is less than impressive.

To lessen your fears of voicing opinions, think to yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Are you really going to lose your job if your idea is a lemon? (If so, maybe it’s time to consider changing careers.) Realistically, the worst that will happen if your idea is disliked is you’ll receive a quick dismissal. Is that really worth jeopardizing future career advancement?

Remember You’re There For A Reason

When it comes to speaking with the boss or company seniors, some professionals can begin to feel insignificant in comparison. They think, “Here are people who have been in the industry for years. What can I possibly add to the conversation?” The thought will paralyze them from speaking for fear of being ousted as incompetent.

If you’re afraid of voicing opinions at meetings, remember you’re there for a reason. Other professionals believed you to have the skills and knowledge necessary for your position to be a success. If you truly possess the competence chops necessary for your position, fear of voicing opinions is needless. Follow my three other tips above and let your opinions be heard!

Are you an introverted professional who has difficulty voicing opinions at work? How do you overcome your fear?

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