Want to save an extra 100 hours on the job? Or more accurately, avoid getting to do an extra 100 hours of work.
I learned an important lesson. Stop being a passive and silent wimp during meetings.
Because that has gotten me into a whole lot of trouble.
If you start acting more assertive, you will enjoy more respect and influence at work. And save yourself a whole lot of extra work!
So what happened to me, how did I find this out? Well, I made a rookie mistake.
Over a year ago I noticed a big complication in a project. I mentioned it briefly during a meeting. But it was dismissed: “no problem, we will work it out”. I did a pathetic attempt to explain the error again. Then thought:
“hey, you know what, it’s their call, my seniors know better. Besides if it goes wrong, they can clean up the mess.”
Worst rationalization ever!
Oh boy, was I wrong. Twelve months later the issue came back with a vengeance. Apparently, screw ups grow exponentially over time. Besides, they don’t stay put at the desk of your superior. They are flung ,with marksman accuracy, to your desk! So you can spend some nights solving that crap.
A few very frustrating weeks followed, where I was fixing all the damage. Free evenings swapped for nightly office sessions. Accompanied by self-loathing and instant noodles.
I said to my superiors: ‘I told you so’. Doesn’t feel like much of a victory if you still do all the work. Besides, they said: ‘Why didn’t you speak up?’
There was a super obvious lesson. Speak up during meetings! Once, twice, three times, don’t let yourself be dismissed so easily! Some determination will pay off big time!
Learn to speak up more and get you points across.
Since I did, I gained respect, authority, and influence. The founders of my start-up ask me for more advice. Colleagues listen to what I say and my judgments are carefully considered.
If you are not an outspoken guy yet, you can learn to do this.
Time to take some action! Here’s what you can do:
Be brutally honest. Don’t waste everybody’s time by not stating what has to be said. You have to simply and clearly argue for your case. Luck favors the bold!
Embrace your (lack of) Knowledge
Use your merits, you are in a meeting because of your knowledge and expertise. You know what you are talking about, get the facts out. Together with your professional opinion, you can add value.
Or maybe as a junior, your lack of knowledge is breath of fresh air. It can spark a constructive discussion. An unspoiled view on business as usual. Don’t be afraid to ask dumb questions. If it is obvious, there is an obvious answer, no problem. Showing an unbiased perspective can help seeing difficulties in a new light.
Trust your Intuition
If you have a feeling something is off, there is usually something off. Trust your gut. Perhaps you are not even sure what it is. But you are doubting, so voice your suspicions.
Just look dumb
You and I both have this all the time. We think we have to say something but hesitate.
‘What will others think of me?’, ‘The boss is looking!’ ‘People will laugh at my questions.’
Well, screw that! Ask anyway. Go for it, if you look a bit ridiculous, it’s cool. At least you are assertive and participate in the discussion.
You can ask your question in naive and sincere manner. Especially when making a thoughtful remark. Start off with: “Let me pose a dumb question, but,…..”. People will lower their guard if you ask questions so innocently.
So obviously you will encounter resistance. Don’t be intimidated to speak up to authority. Especially if you think you are right. Your seniors only can work by the grace of your input. Give it to them straight.
There is alway someone who wants to have the last word. Just ignore them! It’s good, as long as you can get your point across. Don’t be taken aback by their petty games. Especially don’t be impressed by the loudest in the room, they are most often wrong.
Before you get too enthusiastic, remember to keep your professional courtesy. It happens to the best of us, losing your temper when you are in the thick of it.
Breath in, stay calm and maintain your composure. Be polite, but clear.
Want to gain confidence in speaking up? Just start taking action. There are infinite hacks, tips and how-to’s to prescribe. To help you gain a bit more confidence. But in the end it is best achieved by taking action.
Speak from your diaphragm, be prepared, and don’t laugh nervously at your own remarks. By taking action you will gain confidence. Which will lead to you speaking up more. Jump start your positive feedback loop and get yourself heard!
Start using these tips and make your mark on the next important meeting! No more deafening silence. Instead show your radiant character, so the team knows what’s up!