Have you ever found yourself sitting in a meeting, constructing the perfect counterpoint to a co-worker’s opinion in your head, only to stay silent? Speaking up at work can be intimidating – especially when you think your ideas will be unpopular. But holding back an opinion you feel is valuable only frustrates you and prevents the company from benefitting from your suggestions. Here are a few tips on how to present an unpopular opinion.
Get ready. You might feel like you’re about to step in front of a firing squad. Accept that you’re going to get negative feedback – that way when it happens, it won’t be as devastating. And remind yourself that giving an honest opinion on an issue you feel is important means you have integrity.
Be genuine. Chances are your opinion comes from a place of truly wanting to do what’s best for the organization. Be sure to communicate that – speak from the heart. If your co-workers feel you’re working towards the same goal they are, they’re more likely to take your ideas into consideration than if they think you’re just being antagonistic.
Keep it positive. Even if you think your co-worker’s opinions are about as smart as a lead lifejacket, don’t shoot them down. This is not the time to be confrontational. Emphasize the potential benefits of your ideas and present them logically.
Listen. When your co-workers fire off their rebuttals, really listen to what they say. It’s easy to put up a wall if you feel you’re being criticized, but choose instead to stay open and address their concerns in a way that demonstrates that you take their feedback seriously. Anticipating their objections ahead of time and having responses prepared will show those in your office that you understand where they’re coming from and why they believe what they do.