🌀 Leading Forward: How to be Outspoken at Work (Without Being a Jerk)

🌀 Leading Forward: How to be Outspoken at Work (Without Being a Jerk)

🌀 Leading Forward: How to be Outspoken at Work (Without Being a Jerk)

🌀 Leading Forward: How to be Outspoken at Work (Without Being a Jerk)

🌀 Leading Forward: How to be Outspoken at Work (Without Being a Jerk)

Leading Forward How to be Outspoken at Work (Without Being a Jerk)

Leading Forward: How to be Outspoken at Work (Without Being a Jerk)


With our society obsessed being with a sugar coating. It can get tough to be the blunt one. People feel happy when they are being loved and accepted by others. But just to create a lasting impression you sometimes forget to reveal the facts or the truth which causes hindrance in creating a bond between you and others. Today I’m going to share with you how to be more outspoken at work, without sounding like a jerk!

Being outspoken is a gift. Putting your thoughts forward is brave.

An outspoken person is neither living in fear nor does hesitant about what he said. If I have to break it down into simple words, it means a person who speaks his heart out. This person is kind of like an open book, whatever he has on his mind, he will blurt out without shying away. These kinds of people are like rare jewels because you don’t find them everywhere.

Being unable to speak up at work can have long-lasting negative consequences.

It can lead to stress, burnout, or render you almost invisible in a setting where promotions and raises depend on visibility. When you’re outspoken and assertive, you ask for what you need, you talk openly about what you want, and you recognize when someone is taking advantage of you. You can approach the things you do with confidence and make a direct impact on your environment. But this does not come easily for everyone.

To advance your career, and successfully lead teams, it’s important to understand how to be outspoken without being aggressive.

Being outspoken at work can help you negotiate a higher salary, build better workplace relationships, and gain more confidence in yourself and your capabilities. It can be beneficial for you, your team members, and your company as a whole. It allows you to effectively communicate your wants and needs, contribute to team performance, solve problems more easily, and gain confidence in yourself as an employee or leader.

That’s why in today’s post — the third installment in my Leading Forward Series — I’m sharing 5 strategies to be more outspoken in 2022 (and beyond!)

It’s time to reclaim our voice. If we are to solve the big problems facing our world today, we need all our human potential unleashed, and that means ensuring our voices are heard. There are many reasons for my appreciation and understanding of importance regarding outspoken people, but here are a few that I feel are valuable to share.

Raise Your Self-Esteem

Leading Forward: How to be Outspoken at Work (Without Being a Jerk) - Raise Your Self-Esteem

Most people who have a hard time speaking up don’t feel good about themselves. They have low self-worth because they beat themselves up mentally. That’s why they remain quiet because they don’t believe that what they have to say is important. If you want to know how to be more outspoken and confident, you need to learn how to like yourself.

The first step toward becoming more assertive is nurturing a realistic and respectful perspective on your value as a person.

Many people struggle with attribution problems—attributing their failures to internal flaws (“I’m just no good at this, no matter how hard I try”) and their successes to luck (“That went well because it was easier than everyone thought it would be”), contributing to gnawing self-doubt and potentially a sense of worthlessness. Take a step back and think about what you contribute to your workplace. For now, try to quiet any internal criticism that wants to scrutinize your flaws, mistakes, and failures; those thoughts can evoke shame and cloud your ability to see your positive attributes. Take a balanced inventory of who you’ve been at work, noting both good things that you’ve done and anything you might want to improve.

When you’re more confident in yourself and your abilities, you’ll feel more comfortable standing up for yourself and communicating your needs.

If people are not respecting your needs and opinions, it is possible that you undervalue them yourself. You think that your opinions are not very important and the company can do (well) without them. If you do not value your own ideas, it is because you don’t value yourself. You must start believing in yourself. Give yourself assurances because you know very well that your ideas are well thought out. From here, start small. When a colleague is facing a challenge with his work, suggest a way out and explain how you see the suggestion helping them out. When implemented and it brings success, you can be sure your colleague will have a special recognition for you.

Everyone has self-doubt, but if you don’t address it, it doesn’t go away.

Your inner voice of self-doubt is never helpful and will hold you back. Identify it, work to understand its origins, and resolve to tune it out entirely. When in doubt, concentrate on what you know, what you know how to do and how well you do it, and put all the self-doubt aside. If you focus on your competence and capabilities you’ll find the confidence you need. Make the decision to accept the imperfectly perfect you. Know that regardless of what you have been told, what has occurred, what wrong you have done, or what challenges you have faced, you are enough. You are doing the best you can with what you have. We all want to be accepted for who we are. But first, we must accept ourselves.

Being your own best friend means being friendly to yourself, treating yourself well, loving yourself first, and speaking positive things to yourself.

Pat yourself on the back, congratulate yourself after doing something great and think only positive thoughts. Think of the best friend you would love to have and be that person to yourself. Bear in mind that you can always work hard to be the best version of yourself. Accept that perfection is unrealistic, and you can’t achieve it 100%. However, you can embrace your flaws and think of ways to use them to your advantage as you work on improvement. Nobody is perfect, so find comfort in that.

Know When to Say No

Leading Forward: How to be Outspoken at Work (Without Being a Jerk) - Know When to Say No

Are you that person who everyone dumps lots of work on without asking if you have time? Recognize how long this work will take, and what impact it will have on your other commitments — relay this to the person/boss assertively. Using this approach, you are pleasantly, but clearly, setting out your workload and giving a definite time when you can look at it. The person/boss then has the option of giving this work to someone else if it needs to be completed sooner.

Saying ‘no’ can be difficult—especially when it comes to requests made by higher-ups. 

But if you want to be more assertive and be able to stand up for yourself at work, knowing when to say ‘no’ is essential. If you ever feel like you’re being taken advantage of, be ready and willing to say ‘no’ to requests that you feel are unreasonable or outside the scope of your job. Understand your personal limits and know how much work you’re able to take on at a single time.

Many of us have a hard time saying no.

Not only because we don’t want to let people down, but also because we sometimes fear how we’ll be perceived if we don’t accept something from them. The truth is, you are doing a disservice to them by saying yes when you really want to say no. You won’t be truly present, or any fun to be around, if you are going to something begrudgingly. Instead of agreeing for the sake of agreeing, practice saying no with confidence. Feel confident with your decision to stick to your guns, and trust that people will understand.

Saying “yes” to everything will make your bosses and colleagues trust that they can count on you to always help them.

Yes, this is a good mindset, but let us show you an even better, healthier mindset to have… Rather than having your coworkers trust that you will always help them, have your coworkers trust that you will always produce your best quality work. Having this mindset will make your boss and colleagues appreciate your work more. If you have too much on your plate, your quality of work will suffer, likely being sloppier, and killing productivity. Therefore, sometimes saying “no” is the better choice and will benefit everyone in the end.

Know that you have the right to say no. You have the right to express yourself and look after your own needs.

Saying no confidently is an important part of being assertive. It’s not selfish and it doesn’t mean you’re rejecting the other person. Stop being a people pleaser people pleaser. Know that you’ll never please everyone, and your own needs matter. Don’t do something just to please other people. Give up being the most popular colleague or employee due to your absolute availability and your praised spirit of sacrifice for the team. Always keep your needs, situation and priorities in mind. You come first. Of course, say NO loud and clear, as if it were being said to you. Say NO in an assertive and empathic way. And remember: prioritizing your needs and desires is not a sign of selfishness, but of responsibility, self-esteem and maturity.

Communicate Your Wants & Needs

Leading Forward: How to be Outspoken at Work (Without Being a Jerk) - Communicate Your Wants & Needs

Having difficult conversations with others isn’t always the easiest thing to do. This is especially true if you tend to be passive and don’t have a lot of experience interacting with people in general. If you want to figure out how to be more outspoken and confident, consider preparing ahead of time. To help you communicate effectively, make sure you practice what you want to say. That’s why I recommend you jot down everything that you’re thinking about.

Since you are communicating, you must be having something in mind.

You may want to take the day off tomorrow, a deadline pushed further or you don’t want any extra work. Whatever it is that you want, be clear about it in your mind before communicating it. Just ensure you don’t speak emotionally. Simply inform your colleague or boss that you are not able to handle more work at the moment. When you communicate assertively, you will get the satisfaction that comes with receiving what you want.

To maximize your performance and contribute to the success of your organization, you need to advocate for yourself confidently.

Don’t wait for other team members or upper management to recognize what you need. Instead, take initiative and tell them what your wants and needs are. Keep in mind that advocating for yourself doesn’t just benefit you, but it also benefits the company. When you have everything that you need to perform your job at its highest level, your organization also benefits from your increased productivity. If your colleague or manager tells you that your request isn’t possible right now, politely request that the decision be revisited sometime in the future. Be careful not to be overly pushy or aggressive, and don’t make requests that will inhibit other employees’ ability to do their jobs.

Don’t expect people to read your mind.

Nice Guys expect others to recognize what they need and want without having to say a word. Until a mass mutation occurs that allows telepathy or our brains become connected to the Borg, mind reading isn’t possible for the foreseeable future. If you want something, say it; if something bothers you, speak up. Never assume that people know your every need or want. It’s not as obvious as you may think.

Regardless of whether you’re talking about business, politics, sports or the military, the best leaders are first-rate communicators.

Their values are clear and solid, and what they say promotes those values. Their teams admire them and follow their lead. To get employees engaged, they must trust both their leaders and the organization. This can be done with effective leadership communication. Leaders share the vision of the company and show by actions that they are dedicated to that vision. If they are open and honest about what is going on, positive or negative, and do not silo information, employees will then buy into that vision, putting their energy into making it a reality.

Listen and Empathize

Leading Forward: How to be Outspoken at Work (Without Being a Jerk) - Listen and Empathize

How nice does it feel when you know someone is giving you their undivided attention? It’s pretty awesome, right? If you’re wondering how to be more outspoken and confident, practice active listening. The next time you interact with someone, put your phone away and be present. Really try to see where they’re coming from. Lean forward to show interest and nod in agreement to validate what they’re sharing.

Actively listening to others’ suggestions or needs enables you to empathize with their situation.

When dealing with an irate customer, if they recognize that you are taking the time to listen and trying to see their side of an argument, this can help to diffuse the situation. For instance, saying ‘I can see that you are upset, and I recognize your concerns’ followed by ‘at the moment I can do this, however, I will need to speak to my supervisor about…’ is an assertive approach — you are acknowledging their distress. You are diffusing a difficult situation, while taking control, and without compromising the integrity of your company. The same approach can be used in meetings with colleagues.

Great leaders are able to empathize with their team, but they also have the capacity for “tough love”—they can put their foot down when the situation calls for it, despite the fact that it may feel uncomfortable.

Let your team know that it’s not your goals that they’re working towards, but their own. You can achieve this by involving employees in the development of their own performance standards. We value what we help create, and your team will feel more accountable to standards that they helped develop. They’ll also see that you’re vested in their success, and if a situation arises where those standards aren’t being met, the discussion will be around a breech in the agreement—and will feel less like a confrontation on poor performance.

The real power of empathy is giving another person the freedom to express their pain in ways that benefit them.

If you are truly focused on them, your emotional discomfort shouldn’t matter. Developing social awareness and empathy takes time, effort, intention, and choice. No one is born with the ability to be perfectly informed and sensitive when it comes to the many complex social issues in our world. It takes energy to extend ourselves to others, to see things from their perspective, and to provide support and solidarity. But once you start to educate yourself and learn about the various issues facing marginalized communities, you start to grow as a human who can positively interact with others—especially those different from yourself.

Empathy is the ability to understand what another person is going through.

It’s the ability to really put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and to feel what they are feeling. People mess up. Allies should be allowed to ask questions and openly communicate. On the same token, they should be willing to take constructive criticism and constantly better themselves. By demonstrating empathy in your leadership, you will only strengthen the resolve of your employees and colleagues. You will inspire creativity, cultivate an engagement, and above all, provide solace in a VUCA world.

Take Responsibility For Your Own Problems

Leading Forward: How to be Outspoken at Work (Without Being a Jerk) - Take Responsibility For Your Own Problems

You may have noticed that most of the time when sharing your opinions, you start with an apology. You take it that you are interfering with the flow by raising concerns or voicing your thoughts. Whereas apologizing for mistakes done shows humility and a sense of responsibility, too much of it can have negative effects. Apologizing too much indicates low self confidence. Because you are not confident about your own thoughts, you anticipate making someone else angry. You therefore apologize in advance so they don’t get angry with you.

Remember that no one is perfect. Even the most confident people have insecurities, and there’s no one alive who hasn’t made a mistake.

Don’t let one wrong turn, or even a few of them, make you think you don’t have what it takes to achieve your goals and reach your success. Being responsible as a leader means you know how to respond to situations maturely and professionally while also being able to perform and complete the tasks given to you. When a leader consistently takes responsibility for their actions, it shows they’ll be dependable if things get tough and that they know how to show accountability for their actions and behavior. They lead by example, can be counted on in all types of situations and scenarios, and are not afraid to make difficult decisions.

Responsible leaders are willing to go the extra mile. They never protest that something is not their job.

They are ready to do whatever it takes to complete the work needed by their organization. If you want to succeed as a leader, you have to be willing to put the needs of the organization above your agenda. They are driven by excellence. Excellence is always a great motivator. Responsible leaders desire excellence and work hard to achieve it. Make high quality your goal and responsibility will follow naturally.

A responsible leader is one who takes accountability for their actions in the workplace. 

Instead of deflecting, this individual chooses to take responsibility or springs into action to fix a problem. They don’t spread blame; they own and address the issue on the table. Without workplace accountability, it’s not easy to take ownership and keep track of various tasks because we aren’t being held responsible. Remember, everybody makes mistakes from time to time, and responsible leaders are no exception. They know it’s best to speak of failures in terms of “I” and take responsibility for their team. They won’t be fazed by instances or circumstances centered around failure, and they’ll help their team get through the tough time.

The more you learn and grow, the more connected you can feel to your skills and your knowledge.

Confidence is rooted in knowing yourself, your value, and the things you can offer to the world around you. Continue to cultivate your career, and acknowledge how your efforts and strengths bring benefits to your work environment. Have patience with yourself as you make these changes. You may stumble through difficult conversations or lose nerve at the last moment. That’s OK—many new things are hard at first, and building a direct communication style is a process.

Wrapping Up

Leading Forward How to be Outspoken at Work (Without Being a Jerk) Final Thoughts
I don’t fear being outspoken. The only thing I fear is losing my sense of integrity or losing sight of the values on which I guide my life. So I don’t think it’s particularly brave or unusual for me to speak out.Constance Wu

Be open! Be candid! And above all be authentic! People will love and accept you for being genuine and for those who don’t it’s their call. And it’s okay if they don’t. Not everybody is entitled to like you. Self-acceptance is key to a happy life. So if you are outspoken and you are suppressing your views thinking about not being liked then don’t! Remember You don’t have to change for the world. You are special. You are gifted and you are enough.

If getting your point across is a challenge, then you can be sure your career is at risk. 

This is the last thing you want. So why not learn today how to be more outspoken at work? You will guarantee your career growth while also greatly minimizing work-related stress. Start practicing today and enjoy the benefits. Whether it’s at work, with friends, or in your relationship, having the ability to confidently say what you’re thinking is far better than being a doormat, or silently stewing over all the injustices of the world.

Diddle-daddling around the truth or continually seeking approval from others is a big waste of time.

Speaking the truth requires bravery and acceptance of criticism. Yet, I say go for it, because people who are okay with honesty are likely the people that should be in your life. Fortunately, down the road, I was introduced to people who told me things without unnecessary sugar-coating or denial. They stood by their beliefs, they didn’t take anyone’s nonsense, and they told me the inevitable truth. At first, their bluntness was a shock, but I quickly adjusted and really started to admire straight-forward people ever since my relationships developed with them. The world needs bold people.

Owning your voice and un-learning self-silencing can take time. So have patience as you push yourself to your growth edge in becoming more outspoken in the year ahead. Don’t expect perfection — but don’t let that deter you.

If you’re wondering how to be more outspoken and confident, I just shared with you my best tips. Feel free to go through them again and implement them as much as you can. And now, let’s turn it to you. Which one of these tips are you going to implement first? Are you going to rehearse what you want to say or on not being judgmental? Drop a line in the comments below and let me know.

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🌀 Leading Forward: How to be Outspoken at Work (Without Being a Jerk)

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