Speaking up at work can bring benefits

By Kim Giles, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Jan 21st, 2013 @ 6:15am

SALT LAKE CITY — Life is a complicated and messy endeavor. In LIFEadvice, Life Coach Kim Giles is here to help you with simple, principle-based solutions to the challenges you face. Coach Kim will empower you to get along with others and become the best you.


I get intimidated by my boss at work and tend to stay quiet most of the time. But there are some problems that I think need to be pointed out. I am not comfortable speaking up about these things, but I think I need to. Do you have any advice on whether it’s wise to speak up at work and the right way to do it?


It is a well-known fact that people who speak up at work get more opportunities, more raises, more promotions and generally go farther in their careers. More doors open for people who are assertive, confident and open.

Ask Coach Kim
Do you have a question for Coach Kim, or maybe a topic you'd like her to address?
Email her at kim@lifeadviceradio.com.

Speaking up shows people that you trust yourself and this makes them trust you too. If you don’t speak up, and stay quietly in the background, it will eventually hurt your career. People could make incorrect assumptions from your silence, about who you are and what you think. You must speak up to define yourself in this job and show your boss you are invested.

You are probably afraid to speak up at work for one of these three reasons:

1) You may suffer from a fear of failure, which is really about being embarrassed or looking bad. You may have a lot of fear about making mistakes. You may believe it is safer not to act at all, but this is the truth: no action is worse than a mistake. You should read my article about this fear.

2) You may suffer from a fear of confrontation. You may feel inadequate in difficult conversations. The problem is people lose respect for this kind of "chicken" behavior. With a little professional help on communication skills, you could easily get past this.

3) You may have a fear of success, which means you play small and shoot low because it feels safer. You may be afraid of the responsibilities and commitments that come with raising the bar. The problem is, people can subconsciously feel this fear and they tend to honor it, by passing you by. Read an article on this.

People will respect you more for having thoughts and ideas, and being brave enough to share them. Even if they disagree with you, they will respect you for having the confidence to speak up. You will also respect yourself more.


Here are seven steps for confidently speaking up at work:

1) Ask yourself “Why am I bringing this up?

    • Is it motivated by ego and my need to get validation or feel important?
    • Does it add value to the company or prevent problems? Or is it just complaining?
    • Can I back it up? Have I done my research? Do I have a solution in mind?
    • Have I run it past someone else to get a second opinion on its validity?

2) Wait for the right time and place to have this conversation. Bring this concern to the right person, at the appropriate time. Ask if they are open to talking about it now. If they are focused on something else, wait.

3) Ask questions about their opinions and ideas first. Listen and validate their thoughts and feelings about it. This shows that you are open to their ideas and makes them feel respected.

4) Ask permission to share your thoughts. Would you be open to letting me share a few thoughts on this? Asking permission shows people you honor and respect them.

5) Speak up in a respectful way.

  • Explain your motivation for bringing this up.
  • Use I statements to explain your position.
  • Don’t ramble. Keep it short and concise.

6) Show that you are open to a discussion on the topic and you are very willing to bend and learn. If they disagree with you, you could go back to step 3 and follow the steps again. You can do this over and over until you both feel understood.

7) All you can do is speak your ideas in a respectful way. How they process that information, and respond to it, is out of your control. At that point, let it go and don't take it personally if they don't agree.

You can do this. Let us know how it goes!

About the Author: Kimberly Giles

Kimberly Giles gives her advice in the "LIFEadvice" series every Monday on ksl.com. She is the president of Claritypoint Life Coaching and a sought-after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing self-esteem. Listen to her Self Esteem CPR Workshop at www.claritypointcoaching.com.

Related Links

Related Stories

Kim Giles

KSL Weather Forecast