Why having an opinion will get you promoted
You’re the NEW GIRL at the office, so fresh out of school that you can still smell the textbook pages and Saturday night’s 3 a.m. pizza delivery on your new work duds. You’re eager to learn, gain experience and climb that coveted ladder. Your excitement far outweighs your confidence. Eager to make a polished impression, you find yourself second guessing nearly everything, asking a million questions and constantly looking to others for guidance.
First, a reminder: It is okay to be the new girl and it is okay to not know everything. Own your newness and get excited for what’s to come!
At the same time, there is something effective leaders do early in their careers that separates them from the pack. It puts them in the spotlight. It gathers respect like a magnetic force.
Leaders have an opinion.
Why having an opinion matters:
Having an opinion doesn’t mean you need to be the Office Jerk, and it also doesn’t mean you’re right. But it does demonstrate your intelligence, thoughtfulness and that you care about what’s going on with your work projects.
Imagine you’re a designer who never speaks up in discussions about which fonts or colours go into a print ad. Your colleagues may start to question your passion or expertise. Or, imagine you’re a magazine editor and you’re okay with every single article that goes to press. You can’t possibly like them all!
Having a say about your work, and the projects flowing through your team or department, shows others that you care about what you do. In fact, you care enough about it to speak up at a team meeting or politely disagree with a colleague. You care enough to bring a new idea to your supervisor.
Opinions lead to decisions:
This is where the magic happens. Opinions (and thoughts and ideas and other lightbulb moments) lead to decisions. What’s the big deal with that? Decisions drive progress. Decisions propel a business forward! Decisions are the wheels of a business.
Then something incredible starts to simmer. Your opinion—and your personal brand—starts to be linked to progress. To getting things done. Sure, you still may be New Girl, but now you’re New Girl With Ideas, or better yet, the New Girl Who Knows What She’s Doing.
It doesn’t even matter if you’re right, or if your opinions “win” over others. The more you speak up and show you care, the more you’ll be invited to join discussions with your colleagues, managers and others in your company.
This is how leaders are born:
Those who possess the power to chime in and keep things moving are natural leaders. These are the people who tend to get singled out to take on challenging projects and brainstorm interesting strategies. These are the ones who chair committees. These are the ones you turned to in the early days of your career looking for answers. It wasn’t because you thought that they were right all the time, just that they had the confidence to say what’s on their mind.
How to speak up – and not be cocky:
Here’s a few tips on how to share your opinion without alienating others—or losing your friends at the office:
Be respectful to others’ ideas first and foremost.
Take a risk and chime in at a meeting if the meeting organiser asks for opinions; this is an easy and friendly invitation to provide yours.
- If you don’t feel comfortable speaking up at a large meeting, there’s no shame in pulling aside your manager or supervisor after to share a few thoughts. Better yet, grab a coffee together so you can connect, uninterrupted!
- Focus on constructive ideas versus constant criticism. It’s okay to not like an idea or to voice an opinion against it, but keep in mind, Negative Nancy types can be a real drag.
By: Joanna Brinjak Furlong
Joanna is a writer and marketing strategist based in Los Angeles. You can find her on Twitter @JoannaBFurlong or blogging over at www.createfully.com.