It’s risky; speaking up. Many people miss the opportunity for fear of getting it wrong only to regret later not having said anything. Even though speaking up is often spontaneous, a reaction to something unexpected, it doesn’t mean you can’t prepare...
The content of what you say will be ‘spur of the moment’ but the way you say it is well thought through. Really impactful people communicate this way.
Take out meaningless words from your language as much as possible
The key to speaking up with impact is to be clear: the english language has lots of words that only add confusion. Words and phrases like ‘kind of’, ‘perhaps’, ‘just’, ‘you know’, and ‘maybe’ are over used to ‘soften’ communication. They actually leave far too much room for misinterpretation when you need to speak up, so be lean with your use of these words.
Frame what you are about to say
In a rush to get the message out, people often blurt out their words without first framing what they are going to say. This can be confusing and cause others to be defensive if they interpret your intention incorrectly. Be clear about what you are speaking up about, as people may not be as tuned into it as you are. If you are not challenging everything that’s been discussed be clear about which part you want to address.
Acknowledge the other person
You probably don’t agree with them, that’s why you’re speaking up! Instead of going straight for the challenge, though, which can leave a bad feeling, find something to acknowledge that demonstrates respect. Never say ‘with all due respect’ as that comes across as patronising. Instead you could say ‘I appreciate you see it [this way], I have a different view’ or ‘I understand how important this topic is for you’.
Develop a structure for speaking up
Great communicators have a structure they use when speaking up, so they can call it to mind whenever they need to. A good example is:
- Acknowledge the other person or idea ‘I see this is a contentious/ fascinating/ important issue..’
- Pinpoint what you want to challenge ‘The part I am struggling with is’ ‘What I think is a bigger issue is’
- Present it back to the group or person ‘What do people think?’ ‘Could we spend some time discussing this further’ ‘In future could you address personal issues with me privately?’
You can design a structure that works best for you or your context. Keep it a short as possible because you will lose people with long rambles. If you have something positive to say, say it first, as others will focus on the critical topic and may not hear the positive if you say it afterwards. Remember, your outcome when speaking up is to be listened to and action taken, so as far as you can, speak with this outcome in mind rather than just ‘telling’ them your side.
Language is one of our most powerful filters and one that is often outside our conscious awareness. If we can become more aware of the language we use, how it is structured and how it relates to our internal thought processes, we can become more deliberate with how we use language and more skilful in our communication.
Do you find people take up too much of your precious time? Watch this video on dealing with boundary violators.
Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash
Founder of Monkey Puzzle and an INLPTA NLP Master Trainer, John is also a Clinical Hypnotherapist and author of the award winning book Real Leaders for the Real World. His new book Time Mastery; Banish Time Management Forever is out now.