Many times, interns or those of us just starting out in real world jobs have a hard time vocalizing our opinions. Since I first began taking on PR internships, I’ve heard plenty of interns complain or express themselves behind the scenes, but rarely do they speak up when it really counts. While confronting your superiors can be a very intimidating experience, it is sometimes necessary and when done properly, wont be so bad! Here are my 6 tips for speaking up:
- Timing is everything – When confronting someone in the workplace, it is crucial to pick the appropriate time and place. Do not make a scene or drag others into the situation. Wait until you can be one on one with that person.
- Watch your tone – Remember that confrontation and attacking someone are two different things entirely. Speak in a calm, relaxed tone and express your thoughts clearly. Speak using “I” statements (i.e “I feel that…”) to avoid sounding like you’re placing too much blame on the other person.
- Have a game plan – Don’t approach the person super charged on emotions! Before you go in, write down a few notes so that you know everything you want to get out. This will allow you to speak clearly and directly without getting lost in your thoughts.
- Remember that your opinions are valued – No one hires an intern or employee because they don’t want them to add to the team. If you think an idea of yours could strengthen a project, it is likely that you’re right. After all, it is your original ideas that set you apart from everyone else.
- Tell them why, not what – Don’t just shoot down the ideas or opinions of others without offering an alternative. Simply saying that something won’t work is not enough. Instead, give an example of how you’ve seen something done better, and what the results were.
- Be able to receive constructive criticism – Just because you have finally figured out how to speak out doesn’t mean everything you say will be well received. Prepare yourself to have someone disagree with or challenge you, and accept it gracefully. Use the criticism to help better your strategic thinking, so you will have even better ideas next time!