Anyone can fall prey to intimidation, especially those who are new to the workforce and don’t yet know the ropes. But if you let others see your fear, you may not earn the reputation you want at the office. Being labeled a pushover could lose you the respect of your colleagues for good, so speak up! Incorporate assertive behaviors to develop a powerful presence, both inside and out.
Confidence. In order to speak your mind, you must first feel confident and capable from within. In need of a confidence boost? Try the following exercises.
- Own your accomplishments. Sure, your senior colleagues have achieved a great deal, but so have you! Write out a list of your accomplishments on a weekly basis. Doing so will help you remain aware of your unique contributions.
- Acquire a mentor. Find a champion inside or outside your organization who can act as a mirror, reflecting things you know but might have discounted. Your mentor can help you take action beyond what you might have otherwise thought possible.
- Act “as if.” It’s normal to experience a lack of confidence in a new situation, but acting “as if” you feel right at home will help you feel less awkward. The more you pretend to feel at ease, the more comfortable you will become.
Clarity. Now that you’re feeling confident, learn to express your thoughts as clearly as possible. Garbled words and sentences peppered with ‘um’s are distracting, as well as a threat to your credibility. You may find that it helps to rehearse what you want to say in your head a couple of times before you open your mouth. In the same vein, rambling (even if you do so articulately) will dilute your point. Say what you need to say in as few words as possible. Establishing a reputation that you don’t want to waste anyone’s time – especially your own – will help you command respect.
Bravery. Maybe you’re intimidated by a particular person: a boss, a supervisor, or even someone at your level. You could feel this way for a variety of reasons. Maybe that person said something that was personally offensive to you, or harshly criticized your work, or saddled you with a ton of work when you already had a lot on your plate. Regardless of your reasoning, working in an environment where you’re afraid to state your needs is not constructive.
Now that you’re feeling confident and speaking in a clear and concise manner, set up a meeting with the person you find intimidating. Sit down and calmly tell the offender what’s been bothering you. If you’d prefer not to confront the person one-on-one, be sure to stand up for yourself the next time a situation arises. What’s the worst that could happen? Even if the other person responds with anger, you’ll feel much better about yourself when your feelings are heard.