Have you ever had a great idea at work but been too afraid to share it? Being shy is completely normal, but it may limit your opportunities while on the job. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to feel more comfortable speaking up. We'll start with some simple ways to become more involved in conversations and then move on to a few simple adjustments to help you feel more confident at work!
1. Greet your coworkers every day.
A quick hello demonstrates to your coworkers that you are approachable. Because you see your coworkers on a daily basis, make an effort to acknowledge them when you see them. Simply say "Hello" or "Good morning" in a friendly and cheerful tone the first time you see them during the day. This not only encourages you to speak up more, but it also invites the other person into the conversation.
2. Look approachable while you’re working.
Poor body language may give the impression that you are closed off to conversations. Straighten your spine, keep your head up, and relax your shoulders whenever you're working. Maintain an open and receptive posture by keeping your arms and legs uncrossed. Smile at your coworkers to appear friendlier and more eager to converse with them.
Even if you're deeply focused at work, take a moment to consider your posture and how you appear to others.
3. Make eye contact with your coworkers.
This makes you feel more at ease and connected when conversing with others. When you're speaking to someone or listening to them speak, try to match their gaze to show that you're paying attention to them. Making eye contact makes you feel more involved in the conversation, which makes it much easier to speak up and break out of your shell.
To form a stronger bond, try to maintain eye contact for 60–70% of your interaction.
Take care not to stare for too long, as this may come across as too intense.
4. Find common ground to bond over.
When you share common interests, you are more likely to open up. Pay attention to what your coworkers talk about or have in their work area when you're with them. Try asking them questions about their hobbies, interests, or favourite things. When you're working together, you're bound to have something in common that you can talk about.
For example, if a coworker mentions soccer, you can inquire about their favourite team or whether they watched the most recent game.
5. Write down your thoughts before meetings.
Get your thoughts down on paper so you know what to say. If you have a meeting coming up, go over the agenda to see what topics will be covered. Make a list of questions or ideas and write them down so you don't forget them. Try to bring up at least one of the points you listed when you have the opportunity to speak.
Even if you don't say anything out loud, you can always send your ideas to your boss to see if they want to implement them.
6. Aim to say 1 thing during meetings.
Try to meet this target so that you can participate actively. Even if it appears difficult to speak up, start with a small goal so you can easily track your progress. When called into a meeting, look for something that adds value to the discussion and speak up. Even a few brief statements demonstrate your desire to remain involved. Try speaking slightly louder than the others without shouting so that they can hear your voice.
If you don't have your own idea, use someone else's. Say something like, "That's a good idea," or "I was thinking about something similar."
Say something as soon as it comes to mind so that someone else doesn't get it before you.
If you're not completely confident in your ideas, consider asking them as a question instead. Instead of saying, "We should market to younger customers," ask, "What do you think would happen if we started marketing to our younger customers?"
7. Rehearse presentations beforehand.
Practise saying it aloud so that it is less intimidating when you do it for real. It's normal to be nervous when giving a presentation in front of your coworkers, but practise makes perfect. Run through the points you want to make out loud a couple of times to get used to presenting. If you have the time, ask a friend or coworker you trust to listen to you so you can practise speaking in front of others.
Try recording yourself and listening to see if there are any areas you need to improve.
8. Socialize at company events and happy hours.
Allow yourself some time to unwind and bond with your coworkers. Many businesses organise events such as parties, luncheons, picnics, and even getting drinks at the end of a shift. If you are invited to an event, make an effort to attend, even if it is outside of your comfort zone. Spend some time with the coworkers you want to get to know the best so you can talk with them and unwind.
Check to see if anyone participates in intramural sports or hosts a weekly game night with coworkers that you can attend.
9. Boost confidence with positive self-talk.
It is easier to speak up when you feel good about yourself. Allow yourself a few minutes each day to talk yourself up and feel more at ease. Affirmations should be repeated, compliments should be given, and a positive attitude should be maintained. While it may feel awkward at first, you will feel much more confident when you need to speak up.
For example, you could say, "I have some good ideas," or "My coworkers want to hear what I have to offer."
10. Build off of your other strengths.
Even if you're shy, you'll realise how much you have to offer. List all of the other work duties in which you excel and demonstrate your abilities. List what you value about your job as well as your work ethic so that you can see all of the positive aspects you bring to the table. When you need to speak up, change the subject to something related to what you're good at.
For example, if you have good client communication skills, you might spend your meeting time focusing on customer relationships rather than budgets.
11. Look for a mentor.
A mentor can help you break out of your shell by teaching you and encouraging you to do so. Reach out to someone at work who you admire for their boldness and drive and ask for their assistance. Your mentor can give you some tips that have worked for them so that you can speak up more easily. Take your mentor's advice and actively collaborate with them until you feel more confident.
A mentor could be a senior employee or your boss, for example.
Creative Commons License