Speak up and make your point

If you’ve ever wanted to say something, but weren’t brave enough, foolish enough or interested enough to make your point, read on.

When operating within a team or contributing to a situation, you have to speak up. You have to ask questions, even at the risk of sounding stupid, and challenge ideas or practices that don’t seem to be delivering on the objectives. If you feel uncomfortable or unclear, it’s your responsibility to sort it out, not anyone else’s. And it’s not right to keep quiet and then complain about something afterwards.

Failure to speak up is a failure of your responsibility to yourself and your team.

Some people believe that speaking up is rude, embarrassing or otherwise bad form. But you could see it as the only way to clarify, stretch, learn and improve.

Our experience is that when people speak up, it’s a better experience for everyone, as questions in the room that we fail to identify, don’t just hang there, but get discussed.

It’s very often precisely a failure to speak up, especially in autocratic environments, which leads to failure. Speaking up and being challenging is not the same as showing off or causing trouble, it’s about participating and responsibility. If you’re not used to it, take a moment to think about what you want to say and say it sincerely and without apology.

Some may feel that to speak up would risk their job, and it’s true that in some environments speaking up is synonymous with being a trouble-maker. Perhaps it’s a clear sign you need to move on to a better environment. If you cannot speak up, you are compromising your life.

Innovation and learning come through the creative tension caused by questions and challenges that are hard to answer. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. You can create necessity by asking the right questions and making your point.

In all areas of life, it lies with you to speak up, as it’s an essential part of partnership, teamwork, family life and community. If you don’t, it will just lead to disappointment.

To learn to speak up, start by being aware of your feelings. Take a little time to interpret them and work out how you want to articulate them. Then phrase your articulation as an open and neutral question – perhaps start with “please help me understand why…” Then be determined to actually ask the question and do it.

You can also take the responsibility of creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable speaking up. Start by asking others how they feel, privately at first, whilst remembering that these conversations can be just gossip and complaints. So if you find others who feel the same way, use the private conversations as an opportunity to practise making the challenge – and then do it!

Give us a call on 01865 881056 or email us at info@leaderslab.co.uk if you’d like to discuss ideas raised in this blog post.