Have you ever left a meeting or conference thinking, “I wish I had said something?”
You are not alone. People often come up to me and confess that they are hesitant to speak up at meetings. Others mention that when they do say something, no one responds. Check your behavior against this list of 10 key assertiveness points to make sure your voice is heard:
1. Establish your presence? Walk into the room as though you belong there. Greet people. If you feel comfortable being in the room, you will feel more confident about saying something at the meeting.
2. Understand the consequences of not speaking up? You want your bosses, colleagues, and customers to view you as competent and credible. If you don’t speak up, they don’t know what you know, and you can become overlooked and irrelevant.
3. Prepare ahead of time? It is easier to say something when you have practiced. Think about the meeting and what may be discussed. Familiarize yourself with what you want to say so that you can say it with confidence when the topic comes up.
4. Speak early? The longer you wait to give your opinion, the harder it will be to speak up. Make a comment or ask a question near the beginning of the meeting.
5. Make your point without asking permission? Do you say, “May I make a point?” When you do, it’s easy for others to think, “No.” Either say, “I have a point,” or simply speak out with your comments.
6. Speak loudly enough to be heard? If you speak softly, your comments may not register with others. Practice increasing your volume. Initially, you may feel that you are shouting, but the chances are that you are finally speaking loudly enough to be heard.
7. Know how to interrupt? Yes, I know, interrupting is generally frowned upon. Yet, in some situations, if you don’t interrupt you won’t get to speak. The easiest way to interrupt is when the other person takes a breath. You then speak up quickly, acknowledge what the person said, and add your thoughts.
8. Avoid giving too much detail? If you belabor your points, people tune out. Say what you need to say in as few words as necessary.
9. Control your body language? Do not wring your hands or play with paper clips or rubber bands. They become distractions and take away from what you are saying. Make sure you look people in the eye. You appear more confident when you make eye contact.
10. Eliminate self-discounting statements? Don’t start your comments with, “It’s only my opinion,” or similar statements. Don’t conclude with, “I don’t know. What do you think?” If you discount yourself, it’s easy for others to discount you as well.
Pachter & Associates offers numerous ways to learn assertive behavior.
Additional information can be found in former blogs: Polite Ways To Avoid Unwanted Conversations and Do You Talk Too Much? Let Me Count The Ways!
Coaching is available in person or via Skype. Seminars and keynotes on Asserting Yourself are given by Barbara Pachter, and her book The Power of Positive Confrontation also discusses assertive behavior.
For more information, contact Joyce Hoff at 856751.6141 or firstname.lastname@example.org.