Speak Up More
Posted by Amy Wilson on June 8, 2009
Early in my career, I got some great advice from a colleague on the rise:
“You know more than most people in the room, but no one has any idea unless you say something. You should speak up more.“
Over the years, this has proved most helpful, particularly in countering my predisposition to stay quiet in groups. My parents taught me to ask questions of teachers and experts. I had so much practice with this in 1:1 situations, that my husband refers to me as the “interrogator.” (God help you if you ever encounter me at a cocktail party). But talking in groups? Goodness no! It was not until I received the “speak up” advice that I began deliberately practicing group expression. I have many more hours to go.
According to Myers-Briggs, I’m an INT (you can guess on the p versus j, but if you know me, there really is no guessing). I like to think of an INT as a “shy rationalizer.” And, I suspect there are lots like me, particularly in the field of technology. We tend to listen intently in meetings, pick up on connections, and develop solutions in our minds. The answer seems obvious. So, of course we never say it.
Web 2.0 serves both as a solution and as a crutch. On the solution side, web 2.0 collaboration tools (like wikis, discussion forums & threads, and self-authored content combined with social bookmarking) provide a safe place for *the shy* to bring forth ideas and opinions in a group setting. What’s more, organizations gain tremendous value by enjoying more, diverse innovation as a result.
On the other hand, web 2.o can be a bit of a crutch, and worse, a career limiter. These folks (me? you?) might think “I’ve been heard” and settle for that. But, the reality is that the leaders in your organization are not combing through self-authored content and online reviews. They’re in a meeting and they don’t hear you.
So, speak up more.