You are fabulous at meeting deadlines and work well with the team, but when faced with an issue, you get all tongue-tied. While the mental blocks may seem insurmountable, these expert tips can change how you share your opinions and speak up at work. It’s time to take the lead and be heard, ladies!
Jacki Siew Yip Sim, certified trainer/coach, state-registered nurse and state-certified midwife (UK)
Celestine Chua, life coach and founder of Personal Excellence
Intend to understand
Focus on the concept of listening to actually understand what is being said, rather than listening just to respond with what you want to say. Listening is so important that many top employers provide their employees. This isn’t surprising when you consider that good listening skills can lead to better customer satisfaction, greater productivity with fewer mistakes, and increased sharing of information that, in turn, can lead to more creative and innovative work. Richard Branson frequently quotes listening as one of the main factors behind the success of his companies.
Use the ‘Feedback Sandwich’ method
“The analogy with a sandwich is made because you wedge your criticism between an opening and an ending – like a patty wedged between two buns,” says life coach Celestine Chua. Let the receiver know that you are on her side and not there to attack her. It also recognises the things that the receiver is doing right, rather than talking only about the improvement areas, which can come across as being insensitive and rude – especially if there is no established rapport to begin with. After sharing the things you didn’t like or felt could be improved, round off the criticism with more positives, rather than leave her dangling with a sour taste in her mouth.
After asking for a raise, your boss says that you’ll have to wait for at least another six months. The company’s just not able to give raises right now, but she assures you that given your performance, you’ll be considered for a salary bump when the time is right.
Passive Approach: You swallow your disappointment and nervously utter, “Oh, that’s fine – no problem.” But later, you go home and complain about it for hours, because you feel it’s completely unjust.
Aggressive Approach: After being told you’ll need to wait for a raise, you inform your boss that you’re going to begin looking for opportunities elsewhere, where you’ll receive better treatment.
Assertive Approach: You respect your need to be compensated fairly but also understand your boss’s reasoning, so you don’t let your bruised ego get the best of you and lash out. Instead, you ask for more clarity on the company’s future, and define tangible goals and targets that you can review when you revisit your salary request.
Don’t make assumptions
“When providing criticism, do so within the domain of what you know (as fact) about the person and the subject in question. There’s no need to make any assumptions. Not only does it make the person look bad, it also makes you look bad, especially when your assumption turns out to be wrong,” shares Celestine. Below are examples she highlights on the difference between giving criticism and making an assumption:
Criticism: “The speech was mediocre. The speaker appeared nervous and was not able to lead the audience.”
Assumption: “The speaker never had any public speaking experience.”
Criticism: “There are numerous language mistakes in the report.”
Assumption: “The writer is not a native writer of the language.”