There’s a lot of anxiety around at the moment. If one more person talks about how we are living in unprecedented times, my head will explode! And, not surprisingly, it’s affecting how we feel about work. Maybe you’ve been furloughed, or your company are making redundancies, or maybe you have no idea at all what’s going on, and the fact that you feel like you’re in the dark, is making it a whole lot worse.
When people are losing their jobs left right and centre, and competition for new roles is fiercer than a hungry lion who’s having a bad hair day, the pressure is on.
You know you need to perform, showcase your skills, and be visible, so that you can keep your job, or find a new one if the need arises.
But, you’re not the only one who’s got the memo. It’s like a peacock parade!
You’re surrounded by people who seem to be so sure of themselves, who have mastered the art of self-promotion and speaking up in meetings. You’re worried that if you do manage to speak up, you could slip up, say the wrong thing, or make yourself look silly.
And the longer you stay quiet, the more anxious you become, and therefore the harder it is to speak.
You feel like you’re lurking in the background, wishing you could do more to show up and shine. You’re worried that if you stay silent, you’ll be overlooked, or given the chop. But in an environment where everyone is talking, and talking over each other, it’s really hard to butt in and big yourself up. And as a result, all your ideas and opinions and solutions… all your potential stays silent.
The fact is, you do know what you’re doing. You do have skills! And you’ll feel a whole lot better if you don’t keep them locked away.
Here are some easy to implement tips to help you show your bosses what you’re made of, in your own quiet way.
Instead of feeling disheartened or despondent, switch your attention to creating conditions that will work for you. If people tend to talk over each other in big meetings, set up a small huddle where you can chat with key people quietly. If quiet people tend not to share their ideas openly, set up an ideas box. Not only will these initiatives help you, the fact that you’re implementing best practices will raise your profile in the organisation.
If you find it hard to talk about your achievements at work because you’re worried it makes you sound like a douchebag, try bigging up people in your team instead, perhaps on the intranet, in a meeting, or on a group message. Mention that you were impressed with their work and explain how it led you and your team to make a change or do something differently. This showcases your achievements but in a more subtle way.
When we feel shy, it’s often because we are focusing inwards on our fears and worries. Instead, shift your focus away from your jumbly tummy and wavering voice onto the reason why you are talking, and you’ll find extra strength. Having a strong sense of purpose helps us overcome our fears and doubts. Why do people need to listen to your views and ideas? Write your reasons down, and take them with you, so that when you’re in that meeting you can easily remind yourself why it’s important to speak up.
Being shy can make you feel isolated. But you don’t have to do this on your own. There’s no shame in being honest about your shyness. Find a buddy who can act as your wingman in meetings; someone who can mention you and invite you into the conversation in meetings. Once you become more comfortable speaking up, you can return the favour.