How to Speak Up When It Counts

  • The customer has a really bad experience and sends a nasty-gram to you or one of your people.
  • Your group is struggling. Teamwork is on the decline, turnover and resentment are growing.
  • You drop the follow up ball and lose the sale.

Ugh, we’ve all been there, felt that sinking feeling in the gut, and asked ourselves “how did that happen?” We may even be asking “why does this keep happening?

When wrestling with problems like these, one hot spot that will surely surface is communication. There are numerous ways that communication breakdowns lead to trouble, but are we always asking the right questions when we act to resolve and prevent the issues?

Try this one on: Where is someone not speaking up?

When a communication gap leads to a bigger problem, it’s tempting to blame individuals or systems. If we dig deeper, there’s a crucial skill set worth considering: are you and your people truly equipped and willing to speak up?

Human communication can be a mine field, one that the best of us sometimes struggle to walk in. It can be easier to not ask a question, not admit that we don’t know something, feign agreement, or otherwise opt out. We can grand stand, justify, or place blame in order to avoid conversations that challenge us. The next time you recognize that a problem is stemming from a communication challenge, add these questions to your problem solving approach:

  • Where am I speaking up or not in the places where it matters?  What about the folks on my team?
  • What does my team need to help them speak up so we have effective communications that build our business and further our mission?

Improv offers us wisdom here: practice when the stakes are low. When improvisers practice speaking up and stepping out on stage into the unknown, they do so in low stakes environments. Improv performers in a troupe regularly get together and practice skills like speaking up in a place and way that it’s safe to make mistakes and experiment.  Whether you are a team leader or a solo flyer, you can do the same thing. Challenge yourself to practice speaking up in lower stakes situations so that you can be a little braver when the stakes are higher. Adopt an attitude of experimentation and have some fun with it.  Let us know what you discover; we’d love to hear about it!

Business Improv can help you and your people speak from a place that is natural, effective, and relate-able. Join us for Stand Out! It’s our signature workshop for speaking and networking skills, and is a great introduction to Business Improv. Our next Stand Out workshops are March 15 and April 8. Group rates available for 4 or more people.