Have you ever sat in a meeting and felt seriously overwhelmed by the confidence, noise and pomposity of your colleagues? Each one trying to outdo the other, talking more loudly, disagreeing for the sake of it and talking with such conviction that no one actually knows the content of the speech but because of the delivery they think it must be good. I’ve been there many a time and the voices in my head would say “you aren’t making sense” or “I know that’s wrong we need to do it this way”. Yet something also told me to be quiet, what if I am wrong, I don’t want to make a fool of myself, I don’t want people to think I’m stupid.
In the workplace there is so much smoke and mirrors and role playing, people thinking that they need to act a certain way to succeed, and I don’t think that’s going to change. However you can change and you can get your points across. The quieter, just get on with it people, the doers are often stuck in roles because they are so good at them, and because of some ill perceived notion that these people won’t have gravitas (what does that even mean?)
Many managers presume that those that don’t shout the loudest are happy with where they are. I’ve witnessed it so many times when people say “oh I’m fine” when really they aren’t but then later to a colleague or a loved one will bemoan the fact that no one notices how hard they are working.
So how do you get yourself noticed?
Start making notes of what you’ve been doing, bosses love it when you can quantify what you’ve been doing, particularly if you can show how it can benefit them. If you can throw in figures or cost savings, or new ways of working and efficiencies that you’ve introduced then they will appreciate that. Email this information to your boss and ask for a meeting between the two of you to talk about what you’ve done.
In meeting with your boss, try and take the emotion out of it, in your head you could be screaming “you f***** why can’t you see how hard I’m working” or “why does Kelly get all the good jobs and promotions” . Now that all may be true and Kelly may well be sleeping with your boss but keep that in your head, focus on you, otherwise that looks like bitterness and sour grapes. Have a plan about what you want to get out of the meeting, is that an easier workload, a promotion, or simply feedback on what you’ve done. Talk factually about what you’ve done, focus on you, don’t be self depreciating and say “I helped” or “Sarah and I did this” say what you did. State clearly your ideas but keep it in a business context, “this would save money” ” this would reduce time”. Your boss may disagree with your points, that’s when you throw in evidence and try and negotiate a trial period.
If they brush you off and say no, then say can we meet again about this, or ask them why not, what would they want from you to ensure this works. Throw it back to them.
If you are having regular meetings with your boss, then don’t be shy to update them on the stuff you’ve done. Even just email them, keep them in the loop so that they know. Now don’t be emailing every five minutes then you look needy but don’t keep it all to yourself either.
Now back to those scary meetings, take in notes with things you want to say. If there is an agenda ask to be on the agenda so you can talk about what you need to talk about. Remember that a short simple sentence can have a much more powerful effect than a barrage of waffle so don’t full the need to bulls*** but when you do have something to say, say it calmly. If you have a good friend that knows you are shy and you are being talked over, make sure they say hey (insert name) made a great point there. If it’s really too loud and scary then email the meeting group afterwards and say “I’d like to add my points to the meeting and list them”. Don’t be responsible for silencing your own voice however shy and quiet that as is as it’s equally as important.
Listen to people, really listen to people,sometimes the confidence is a mask of insecurity truly confident people are inclusive not exclusive. Remember you are paid to do a job on your skills and you are good at your job. Try not to let old high school insecurities rear to the surface, there may be mean girls in the office but you are not the 14 year old geek with braces and a NKOTB t shirt (not that there is anything wrong with that).
Remember you are who you are and appreciate you, as soon as you start to appreciate you, you’d be surprised by how many people start to appreciate you to.