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How To Champion Your Own Voice In The Workplace

I’ve devoted my professional trajectory to the evolving realm of pharmaceuticals, biology, and the medical sector. Within those vast industries, I have remained a committed advocate to advancing treatments for various diseases, propelling tech innovations, and leading teams in a manner that felt authentic, effective, and most importantly, ethical. Throughout various appointments, I have worked […]

I’ve devoted my professional trajectory to the evolving realm of pharmaceuticals, biology, and the medical sector. Within those vast industries, I have remained a committed advocate to advancing treatments for various diseases, propelling tech innovations, and leading teams in a manner that felt authentic, effective, and most importantly, ethical. Throughout various appointments, I have worked with groups of industry leaders, highly advanced industry personnel, and individuals with directly opposing views. Of course, as I garnered experience and made my way up the proverbial professional ladder, each step of the way was met with adversity, potential professional disagreement, and differences of opinion. Through these experiences, I always attempted to remain true to my own convictions, and to ensure that my viewpoints were always respectfully heard. Though my proposals weren’t always accepted, and my opinions sometimes turned out to be incorrect, I found the value of championing my own voice.

            Consider Why Speaking Up Matters

            In any industry, within any job that requires human interaction, the notion of truly being heard is integral to maintaining a positive team spirit, retaining an inclusive atmosphere, and allowing individuals to feel empowered in the workplace. In companies that often rely on teamwork, maintaining silence, or merely going along with the group’s directive can minimize innovation, or the disruption of a well-established status quo. Of course, this is undoubtedly detrimental to the overall ability to move forward, a feat that every company strives for in the globalized market.

On an individual level, voicing your well-established opinions, thoughts, and ideas in the workplace not only adds to workplace satisfaction, but fosters a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and motivation, all crucial factors for maintaining long-term commitment to excellence in the workplace. Though proverbially flying under the radar may sometimes appear to be a safer choice, it also limits you professionally, and conjures up an overall sense of being lost in the crowd. By learning to champion yourself in the workplace, you can effectively spark the small changes that amount to becoming a vocal, confident, and self-assured leader.

In my own experiences within the pharmaceutical industry, I have found that taking a chance on vocalizing my thoughts on a particular subject initially, or early within an assignment, opened the doors for continued respectful consideration, and my continuous desire to continue to champion my own voice. In turn, actively speaking my mind sparked thought-provoking brainstorming sessions with peers, who then actively sought my opinion on future matters, further fostering a collaborative spirit. This myriad of benefits seemed to always snowball, resulting in vast benefits to my overall professional satisfaction, group performance, and even my own mental health.

            Pat Your Own Back

            As increasing focus begins to be paid to mental health in the workplace, and individuals seek to find a healthy work-life balance, professionals seek ways to increase their happiness in the workplace. A fantastic way to do this is to actively be your own biggest supporter. By learning to trust, value, and intrinsically understand your own thoughtful choices, opinions, and ideas in the workplace, you can effectively start to build the confidence needed to voice those ideas with confidence, pride, and authority. By actively supporting your ideas, and being your own biggest supporter, you will gain professional happiness, recognizing the professional growth that was parlayed through the development of these ideas. Even if they are not always recognized by peers, leaders, or supervisors, your own ability to generate well-considered ideas should be celebrated, revered, and utilized as a source of proof for ongoing professional development. So, I encourage you to occasionally pat your own back, recognizing your own strides forward, whether vocalized or silent.

            Learning to be independently proud of your own professional progress allows you to take the reigns of your feelings, and lowers the pressure for seeking approval from outside sources. Additionally, it also bolsters feelings of confidence, relieves the dreaded Imposter Syndrome, and builds the infrastructure needed to vocalize ideas, and champion your own voice.

            Think It, Research It, Say It

            If the thought of pitching ideas, disrupting the status quo, or otherwise voicing potentially provocative material brings forth anxiety, you can examine the source of that anxiety, and learn to effectively minimize the fear that can diminish your professional voice. For most people, going out on a proverbial limb in the workplace appears daunting, as many people dread feeling stupid, being wrong, or seeming otherwise wildly incorrect. Thus, by working to eliminate the potential of those feelings, you can minimize the anxiety that can certainly creep up immediately before pitch presentations.

            A universally applicable way to accomplish this goal is to research your idea, opinion, or topic, and to present real data to validate your stance. If you have an innovative idea for streamlining operations that is somewhat radical, you can confidently present the idea by supporting your opinions with initial trade studies, the support of other industry leaders, or factual data that supports your claim. In fields that require rational considerations, you can employ the use of favorable research studies, statistics, and other validating tools. In creative fields, you can showcase similar examples of desired outcomes. Essentially, backing up your own statements with empirical evidence somewhat eliminates the frightening idea that your ideas are “off the wall”, impossible, or otherwise irrational. By presenting the factual reasoning for your ideas, you can gain the confidence of understanding that your idea will have to be met with consideration, thought, and professional respect, rendering it much easier to champion your thoughts.

            Don’t Be Afraid To Be Human

            Championing your own voice in the workplace can not only set the groundwork for garnering new experiences, and propelling your career, but it can also do wonders for your overall satisfaction, confidence, and wellbeing. Those universal aspirations are felt by every professional, across all disciplines of work. Thus, don’t be afraid to draw upon the universal nature of intrinsic feelings linked to professional endeavors. Understanding that everyone can relate to your own experiences, feelings, and motivations can make it easier to actively share them within the workplace, and to speak up for yourself in order to parlay them effectively. Recognizing that CEO’s, supervisors, and world leaders have most likely experienced similar emotionally-driven professional considerations as you can suddenly even the playing field, rendering it easier to openly and confidently speak up in a professional setting. In every field, in an effort to champion your unique voice, don’t be afraid to substantiate your ideas, thoughts, and planning with emotionally-driven supports.

            In my experience with launching marketing campaigns for various new pharmaceutical treatments, my unique approach to marketing has sometimes been questioned. However, due to my understanding in the emotive response of potential consumers, and my own emotionally driven convictions related to my bespoke marketing plans, I was able to eloquently present these thoughts in a way that could be universally understood by all involved parties through emotional connection. By being able not only recognize where I was coming from, but the emotional considerations of potential customers, previously hesitant peers were inclined to examine my methodology, and to thoughtfully consider my strategy prior to forming an opinion. In turn, this consideration validated my professional voice, and allowed me to feel like a thought-provoking integral member of the team.

            Raise A Few Eyebrows

            In everyday life, and in the workplace, individuals are often afraid to speak up in fear of garnering a negative response, or other unwanted attention. However, in order to truly create systemic change, a few eyebrows must sometimes be raised. Thus, it is up to you to decide whether the crusade is worth potential initial gasps. In the case of standing up for ethical reasons, the answer may be unequivocally simple. Whatever the circumstances may be, occasionally raising a few eyebrows can incite change, and can often lead to a change of general opinion, operations, or even company standards.

            In order to remain true to yourself, and champion your own voice in the workplace, speaking up can sometimes incite fear of disapproval. However, if done with professional courtesy, respect, and a deeper appreciation of your position, verbally challenging the status quo can be seen as a positive step toward modernization, rather than a mere attack on the institution. Thus, by pivoting the messaging to be conducive to the overall betterment of the company, industry, or workplace, you can rest assured that seemingly controversial topics can also be met with surprising positivity.

Write It Down

If the thought of eloquently vocalizing important content creates unwavering anxiety, but you want to present your case in an efficient manner, consider writing it down. For even the most seasoned professionals, the perceived inability to “get it right” when speaking in front of groups, superiors, or peers in the workplace sometimes inhibits people from sharing thought-provoking content. A modern way to circumvent this issue is to create a document, email, or other written form of communication that allows you to thoughtfully present your thoughts, opinions, or ideas, without the added worry of fumbling over the rapidly spinning thoughts in your own head.

In addition to providing an effective platform for concisely communicating thoughts, written mediums allow the recipient to experience your intended content at a time that is most conducive to them, to revert back to parts that may require a second look, and to examine the content in the privacy of their own space. As even some seasoned professionals can be initially reactive, this form of effectively championing your own voice allows the recipient the opportunity to react instinctively, and then rationally consider their true feelings, thoughts, and responses to your proposition, often yielding different results than initial face-to-face interactions. By taking the pressure off of yourself to present the subject perfectly in person, you also take the pressure off of the recipient to respond to the topic perfectly.

This method may also be most conducive when asking open-ended questions, requesting consideration of particular items, or presenting a topic that may have additional supplemental insight that is needed in order to effectively grasp the intended concept. In this case, email communication can be an effective tool for professionally propelling your voice. Since inflection, sarcasm, and facial recognition is thrown out the window via written communication, avoiding anything that can be misconstrued by the reader is crucial to creating resonating impact, and avoiding any potential miscommunication.

Whether you are entering the workplace via an entry-level position immediately after college, seeking to stand out within your team, or wanting to simply feel proud for speaking up, following the aforementioned tips can inspire you to be a vocal advocate for your own professional success. By maintaining professionalism, backing up your opinions with research, and understanding the universal emotional connection that all professionals share, you can actively work to increase your self-advocacy in the workplace in a manner that is effective, respectful, and positive. Starting small, these positive experiences can lead to bigger changes, advocacy opportunities, and most importantly, a growing sense of pride, confidence, and success in the workplace. Capturing your voice, this newfound confidence can elevate your professional experience, and lead you to places previously thought impossible. Thus, be your own biggest supporter, and always aim to champion your own voice.

Follow Carsten Thiel on Twitter and Medium.

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