Speaking up: Do you press your mute button at work?


Are you strong and confident inside your own home but lose your voice in the workplace?  Are you afraid of speaking up?  Here  are five top tips to getting back on track.

If things go a little off track at home are you one of the first to notice and make no bones about pulling it back in line?When the kids roll their eyes in a serious ‘whatever’ fashion – bring it on Mary Poppins. Your partner looks at the washing machine as if it’s a UFO – the operating manual is handed over with a wink.

Strong, confident and definitely directing unwanted behaviour with panache. But what happens when you are outside the safety of your homely four walls? When relations at work show the rumblings of future storms do you take it on the chin in the name of keeping the peace?

Truthfully, how often do you use the savvy you employ at home at work?

Enter stage left the need to be liked. At home you are confident that you’re loved and this lets you show your true colours. You use that powerful voice that fits with your values and beliefs – you know the one? The one that gets things done. At work however, the need to be liked, to fit in, to be part of the crowd clouds judgment. It stops you being a serious contender and contributing effectively.

So what to do about it?

Firstly the need is normal. If we look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs it is right up there as a core need. We need to be loved and have a sense of belonging. To be part of a group and be accepted. This links closely to esteem needs – to have the esteem and respect of others.

But is that need dominating your repertoire? Is your full range of skills being showcased at work?

Building rapport is invaluable at work as long as it is in context. Let’s face it, who wants to work with that person – the one that doesn’t give a monkeys about others. But has your need “t’be lurrved” left you lurking in the shadows of the office corridors and paralysed innovative performance and true leadership?

On a scale of socially helpful to mildly limiting to crippling for career development, where do you fall? If you are at the latter end it leaves you very vulnerable to rejection, criticism, fear of angering others or hostility.

McClelland’s need-based motivational model can help us out here.  When we have a need for affiliation we are motivated towards friendly relationships. Put simply we need to be liked and be in popular regard. It makes us great team players – but what if you want to lead the team?

Five top tips to getting back on track

1. Re-examine your beliefs about yourself – are they empowering?.
You want your beliefs to guide you to achieve more. Take a good look at yourself and all the things you are fab at. I bet you are amazing. Know that. Be comfortable with what you are. Forget what you are not. No-one is all things. If you hold the belief that you are likeable then when you are not feeling the lurvving that’s ok. We all value and like different things about people. You don’t immediately want to be best mates with everyone you meet and that is normal. So get comfortable not being everyone else’s best pal.

2. Set goals

Set yourself targets that you consider important to you personally and to your career. Keep it real and note your progress towards them. A great way to see how far you have moved towards a goal is to plot the goal and sub goals pictorially as each step being a rung on the ladder until you reach your goal.

3. Focus on completing task

Be a person who looks to completing tasks. There is no greater satisfaction – I might be exaggerating a little – than completing what you set out to do. It moves you away from needing praise to giving yourself a hearty pat on the back.

4. View feedback as a measure of success

Look at feedback in terms of a scale of what was done well and where you need to adjust behaviour or add to your skill set. Change the frame of looking for praise or recognition to something that you can learn and grow from.

5. Internally validate

Make the time to note how well you have done. Give yourself consistent career appraisals. Give yourself some recognition.

And finally…

In simple terms change your focus from affiliation to achievement.

You can be liked at work and that is a good thing – but what do you want to be liked for? When you feel the urge to hit your mute button at work – how about turning down your need to be liked instead? I think you’ll find it liberating!

Author: Lucinda Harlow –  orginally a guest post for 3Plus International www.3plusinternational.com

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