Sometimes, our teammates need some help finding the tools and encouragement to speak up at work. And whether you’re a manager or not, the people on your team will be grateful for the encouragement and empowerment to communicate better. In fact, one industry study found that 85 percent of employees are dissatisfied with the level of communication on their teams. So when we can urge our co-workers to use compassionate directness to speak up and surface problems immediately, everyone benefits.
If you need some help empowering your teammates to speak up, here are some strategies to try:
Start the conversation with gratitude.
Many people feel nervous about speaking up because they don’t feel confident in the value they add to the team. Take a moment to compliment your co-worker on their work, or point out something specific they accomplished recently. Not only will it show them that you value their contributions, but it will encourage them to feel confident in what they bring to the table, and be ready to speak up.
Speak clearly and directly, without caveats.
Part of compassionate directness is being able to edit out any hints of passive-aggressiveness or indirectness. So if you’re trying to encourage a co-worker to speak up, set the expectation by being clear and direct about your advice. You can start by saying, “I want to encourage you to speak up about your recent idea at today’s meeting.”
Invite them to rehearse it first.
Make your teammate more comfortable speaking up by being their sounding board. Gaining the confidence to voice your opinion often requires preparation — so encourage your co-worker to practice speaking up in front of you, and then you can provide feedback before they approach the group. Allowing just a few minutes of “rehearsal” can help you work together to support and strengthen each other’s communication styles.
At your next meeting, ask for everyone’s POV.
When you’re part of a larger team, it can feel daunting for team members to speak up and voice their ideas if not asked to — but some introverted team members may need the extra nudge to share their ideas with the group. At your next meeting, ask for everyone’s point of view on whichever project or goal you’re discussing. And over time, team members will likely start sharing their opinions without the extra nudge.