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Can’t Seem to Get Your Work Ideas Through? Here’s How to Communicate Better

Speaking up is a good trait but doing so without upsetting someone is a skill. Try these strategies the next time you need to have a difficult conversation at work.

“OK team, what do you all think about my new idea for the upcoming marketing campaign?” your supervisor asks. 

Deep down, you think your supervisor’s idea won’t work. But you don’t know how to share what you think without embarrassing him, even though he’s also your colleague and it’s important to communicate openly at work. Such communications will pre-empt the potential problems of his idea so that the campaign does not perform poorly. Sharing your views is part and parcel of work. But now, more than ever, voicing your opinion is crucial in the workplace, says Mr Joel Leong, talent management director at Jabil Inc., a global manufacturing company.

“The world is now changing at breakneck speed. For organisations to keep up, they need to allow employees to be more autonomous and act as change agents,” Joel explained.

“Allowing employees to speak up freely will provide a quick and inexpensive way for organisations to course-correct any initiative. It can also potentially impact the bottom line when they surface ideas that can improve product or service offerings.”

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From an employees’ perspective, there are many advantages to speaking up.

Ms Parul Sandhu Chopra, a corporate training consultant at Stafford & Chan Singapore, explains: “It is critical for employees to speak up, so they feel empowered and in control of their lives.”

“With the plethora of complications most people must deal with (which have been compounded by Covid-19), mental health issues are on the rise everywhere. Taking action in one aspect of our lives positively impacts other areas too, which will impact overall well-being.”

In this infographic, Joel and Parul share some tips on how you can speak up respectfully and sensitively in the workplace. 

Common Work Scenarios and How To Tackle Them

Scenario 1: Your supervisor gives you a deadline that you can’t meet.

What not to say: The deadline you gave me is impossible!

Try saying: All three projects that I am working on now share the same deadline. Would you agree that Project X is of the highest priority, and I can deliver the other two projects next week?

Scenario 2: Your colleague shares an impractical idea. 

What not to say: This idea doesn’t make sense.

Try saying: I am concerned about the logistics in implementing this idea because (provide facts, numbers, or social proof). Can I suggest…instead?

Scenario 3: Your colleague asks you for help, but you are overloaded.

What not to say: Sorry, I can’t do this. 

Try saying: I’m sorry. I would like to help but I’m currently busy with [mention projects]. Can I help you out after I finish some of my projects? 

Scenario 4: You are unhappy with a colleague as you find his or her email very curt.

What not to say: Why is your email so rude?

Try saying: I feel hurt [state your feelings] when I receive curt emails [insert the trigger of your unhappiness] because I feel disrespected [insert why you feel this way]. I would prefer [state what you need from the other party].

Communicating effectively at work is a skill that is necessary to progress up the career ladder. With practice, you can convey your challenges and opinions without upsetting your colleagues. 

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