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3 Keys to Ensuring You Make a Difference In Speaking Up

| | General Leadership
3 Keys to Ensuring You Make a Difference In Speaking Up

Communication can be messy and unpredictable — which is why speaking up about things that really matter to you often takes courage. Unfortunately, just because you speak up doesn’t mean you will be heard.

Sometimes what you have to say lands on “deaf ears.” Perhaps the person you most want to listen doesn’t really want to hear what you have to say or has a blind spot you just can’t seem to get past. Maybe you will get a reaction you don’t expect or even one you feared. It’s also possible that, despite your best intentions, your communication will miss the mark.

Of course, you don’t intend to communicate poorly, especially not when you have to muster up the courage to do so. You may even invest time to choose your words carefully and still miss the mark.

Nonetheless, as the speaker it is your responsibility to get your message “across the bridge,” ensuring that the message you intend to communicate is received. tweet this

Here are 3 keys to ensuring you will not only be heard but also make the difference you intend to make.

1. Be Aware of Your True Motive

Are you truly using this as an opportunity to make a difference? Are you speaking up to challenge the thinking about an issue or decision and provoke constructive conversation, or are you just aiming to prove your point? If you are authentically interested in other points of view on the subject, open to learning and perhaps even changing your mind about the subject at hand, chances are your challenge will make a difference for everyone involved.

If, however, you think you are right, feel the need for others to agree with you, and/or will only be satisfied with your thinking being validated, proceed with caution.

After all, if you are right, there is only one outcome for the listener possible — to be wrong. If your intent in speaking up is to call someone out on something such as bad behavior then this may be the way to go. But if your intent is to cause productive dialogue you may have work to do before you are ready to speak up to make the desired impact.

If it’s an idea or possibility, are you looking for approval, do you want honest feedback, or are you perhaps ready and willing to take a stand intending that others follow your lead?

The key is to first make sure you are clear about your intention and purpose for speaking up. Only then can you prepare for how to best proceed.

2. Consider the Level of Trust in the Relationship(s)

Even the best of intentions can be misread when trust is weak. Choose your time, place, and method according to the level of trust present. For example, publicly challenging someone’s thinking in front of their boss, when they don’t trust you or even their boss, is not likely to go well. In general, the greater the degree of trust among those involved, the less cautious you will need to be.

The key here is to be honest with yourself about the current state of the relationship, so you can care for both the relationship and the outcome in the process. This is particularly essential if you are committed to creating a win-win outcome.

If it’s an idea or a possibility, it is just as important to consider the current state of your relationship. What is exciting for you could provoke a negative response in others. For example, speaking up about an idea to someone who is competing for a position, or a boss who feels threatened by you, could backfire. Share your dreams only with those who you can trust to care for your dreams.

Once you are standing strong and ready to move from idea to action, that could be a better time to speak up to those who might undermine your confidence or thwart your intentions.

3. Go for Progress, Not Perfection

Communication is inherently messy. A clue that you are seeking perfection is when you find yourself over-analyzing and/or playing the same conversation over and over in your mind, hoping you will find the way to say things just right. Another sign is procrastination.

You can’t control what people hear or how they interpret what you say. Of course, some people are more masterful at communicating than others. Just don’t wait until you feel you can claim mastery or perfect timing before you act. You can only learn to communicate better by communicating!

The key is to take action based on your commitments, and allow your communication to be guided by your intentions and purpose (i.e., your “why”).

You may screw up or get a completely unexpected reaction. A setback may not feel like progress, but more often than not it is just a hurdle you could only see because you were willing to act. If that happens, all there is to do is to reconsider your “why” and choose your next action accordingly.

Remember…

Speaking up as an act of leadership isn’t about what you have to say, about being heard, or even about being understood. It is about the difference you want to make by speaking up.

Sure, speaking up may be risky. It may require courage to face your fear or step out of your comfort zone. But don’t let that stop you. We need you to lead!

 

Image Credit: hootie2710 / 123RF Stock Photo

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