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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Getting Ahead

You're Way Too Smart to Keep Your Mouth Shut: 3 Reasons You Should Speak Up More


Here’s a situation I’m sure you’re familiar with: You’ve come up with an exciting idea that you think you and your colleagues will benefit from. But even though you feel your thinking is solid, you’re too afraid of speaking up about what’s on your mind. Sure, you think it’d be smart, but what if your boss doesn’t agree? And even worse, what if she thinks your entire concept is dumb?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve kept your mouth shut when it came to this, and then watched as a colleague raised her hand to propose a very similar idea that your boss loves.

While it sucks when that happens, it’s also proof that you’re smart enough to speak up more often when you have a good idea at work. If you’re still feeling anxious about it, here are a few more reasons why you are totally qualified to let your boss know that you’ve come up with something awesome.

1. You Wouldn’t Have Been Hired if Your Boss Didn’t Want Your Input

No matter how hard you want to be on yourself, the reality is that you were not hired just because your boss settled on someone who was just “good enough.” The odds are that you went through a lengthy interview process that involved your manager picking you from a pile of resumes and continuing to move you through the process!

Unless you’re working for the most unmotivated company on the face of the earth, your boss probably thought deeply about the type of person she wanted to hire for your role. Because of that effort, she was excited to bring you aboard to hear your thoughts on a lot of things. So, not only does she think you’re smart enough to speak up about the ideas you have, she probably expects you to do it more often.

2. Even Half-Baked Ideas Can Start Important Conversations

When it comes to a major project that will take months to complete and require an enormous budget, it’s maybe not the best idea to say, “This thought is half-baked right now.” However, if you’re talking to your boss casually, it’s perfectly OK to say, “I’ve been thinking about this idea lately, and although I don’t have the answers, I was wondering if you had any feedback.”

In the past, I used to get clammy around my supervisors in any context, and I assumed that any thought I ran by authority figures required a detailed spec sheet before I spoke up. However, in most cases, that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Even a half-baked idea might remind your manager about something important she’s been meaning to tackle. And when she remembers to get around it, don’t be surprised if you get a lot of credit for bringing that back to the surface.

3. If You Don’t Speak Up, Nobody Will Speak Up for You

Yes, it’s frustrating when one of your colleagues spits out an idea that sounds almost identical to something you were thinking about. However, it’s not always guaranteed that someone else on your team will have the same idea. So, if you’re feeling inspired and have something to speak up about, it’s up to you to take the initiative and say what’s on your mind.

While you might be thinking that the worst-case scenario involves someone else getting credit for something you thought of, what’s even worse is when you’ve got a world-changing idea that you’re just keeping to yourself, especially when your little secret could improve your company’s bottom line. Sure, you don’t want to merely propose a bunch of bad ideas willy-nilly, but unless you’re suggesting that every day should be Hawaiian shirt day, you’re doing your entire team a disservice by keeping your mouth shut.

It’s no secret that speaking up to your boss, someone whom you respect and admire, can be scary, but that doesn’t mean you’re not smart enough to bring up an awesome initiative that you’ve got up your sleeve. The fact that you’re even reading this article is a good indicator that you’re not always wasting people’s time with your stupid thoughts. If you’ve come up with something that could help your team take a step forward, there’s no harm in saying something— so be bold and let everyone know what’s on your mind.