I hope you had a great week last week and were able to apply the tips I had for communicating with people from different generations. In case you did not read the last two Monday Motivators, I have been writing a 3 part series on communicating for business success. The first one was, Be a better communicator at work and the second was, Bridge the Generational Communication Gap.
Today I am focusing on tactfully voicing your opinion, which is another topic I cover in our World Class Assistant Certification course.
Throughout my career as an employee—a few decades ago—I had the need to voice my opinion to my manager, colleague, vendors, peers, and others. As a business owner, leader, trainer, coach…I still have situations occur when I need to voice my opinion. We all experience this in the workplace. For some people, it is easy to voice their opinion and for others, it is hard.
The caution is just because someone has the courage to speak up, it doesn’t mean they are presenting it in a way that will be acceptable to the receiver. If we want our voice to be heard and to be taken seriously, we have to think about how we communicate and present our case.
Step #1: Consider these factors. Before you even express your opinion, there are some factors you should take into consideration, such as:
- What is the other person’s sensitivity to the issue or situation?
- What is my experience level in the area in which I want to express my views?
- Is it too late to express my opinion?
- If the receiver is from a different culture, how will they accept what I have to say?
- Are there generational differences between me and the person to whom I want to express my views? How might that impact their willingness to be open to what I have to say?
- My mood? Am I in a low mood? A grumpy mood? Frustrated? That probably is not the time to express my opinion. This could dramatically affect the outcome.
- Why am I even having this conversation?
- What is my motive in voicing my opinion? What do I hope to accomplish?
Step #2: Think about the words you will use. Resist rattling off what’s on your real mind. You want to maintain professionalism and have the receiver be open to your suggestions or views.
Step #3: Gather facts to back up your opinion. For example, if Joe in another department consistently turns in a monthly report late, you will have a lot more leverage or chance of getting Joe to change if you were to say something like… “Joe, the January report was due on the 18th of the month; I received the report on January 25. In February, the report was due February 14; I received the report February 19.” Do you see having facts is more powerful than saying, “Joe you are always late with the monthly report.”
Step #4: Make sure you aren’t personally attacking someone. Stay focused on the point or issue at hand or situation. It does us no good to verbally attack a person.
Step #5: Select the best time. Timing is important. Maybe you wish to express your thoughts in a meeting to one of the attendees but you would be better off waiting until after the meeting or even the next day. Again, if we want people to be open to what we have to offer, we need to consider if this is the right time.
Step #6: Clearly explain your point of view. Two people can be right and not be in agreement. What do I mean? I see it all the time when I coach executives and assistants. Each person has their view of a situation, expectations, or performance. The executive is right and the assistant is right but they have different view or stories about what happened. Take time to explain your thoughts.
Step #7: Consider your relationship with the other person. How long have you known this person? How will they take your feedback? Are they a superior? (You can still voice your opinion but very carefully.) Do they work within your organization or outside your organization?
It is both important to express our views and maintain another person’s self-esteem. I encourage you to work on this vital business skill.
Have an awesome week!