How to Know When to Speak Up at Work


In the course of your career, there are times when keeping quiet and avoiding drama is the wise thing to do. However, there are times when you should not hesitate to speak up for yourself, a colleague or the company. Failing to speak your mind and making your feelings known at such times might actually have a detrimental effect on your life and career. Here are some of the occasions when you need to make your voice heard:

See also: Why Speaking Up At Work Is Hard For Women

1. During brainstorming meetings

Many people work in offices or organizations where brainstorming sessions are held about anything from advertising and finances to retreats and parties. Even if you are shy or reserved, you should not be silent during such meetings. If you are not involved, people might develop a negative attitude towards you. You might be perceived as someone who is antisocial, apathetic or who has no ideas.

2. When the assignment is not clear

If you don’t understand any part of an assignment or project, be sure to ask for clarification. In most cases, your supervisor or boss will appreciate your asking and provide all the necessary information. However, don’t make the mistake of asking the same questions over and over. If you have to be told something repeatedly before you get it, you might appear incompetent for the job.

3. If you are in pain

If you begin experiencing severe pain at work, you need to speak up quickly. Ignoring it might worsen the condition and hinder your performance. Whether you are experiencing a migraine, backache or chest pains, let your boss or supervisor know. You might need to see a doctor or just take the day off to rest. If the cause is work-related, your employer may need to take measures to alleviate the situation. For example, this could mean buying desks and chairs which are more ergonomic.

4. Whenever you feel harassed

The workplace should be free from all kinds of harassment, whether emotional, racial, physical or sexual. Harassment will not only disrupt your work but could also have a major negative psychological effect on you. The longer you ignore it, the worst the situation is likely to get. Therefore, be sure to speak up when you feel a workmate is harassing you. If the situation persists, arrange for a meeting with someone from your HR department, or anyone else in a position of authority.

5. When gossip and rumors go wild

Idle gossip happens in conference rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, at the water cooler, and wherever else people congregate in the workplace. When the gossip can be harmless, you can simply ignore it and mind your own business. When it gets toxic, however, you need to break your silence. For instance, when you hear a rumor which is not true about someone, you could stop it by saying “No, she did not do that. I was with her the whole time.” Alternatively, you could forward your concerns to your boss or supervisor.

On what other occasions have you felt the need to speak up at work? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.