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Score Points In Meetings

How to speak up and get credit for your ideas

score points in meetingsDo you spend your time scurrying from one meeting to another? You’re not alone. For many people much of the official workday is spent sitting in meetings. Other duties like answering an endless stream of email and getting a little paperwork done are squeezed in during the few moments a day we actually get to sit at our desks. But, that’s another story.

If you want to get ahead in today’s workplace you need to score points in meetings. To accomplish this you must (1) be able to state your ideas clearly and concisely and (2) make sure you are recognized for your contributions.

Like lots of things, this is easier said than done. The sluggish economy is contributing to an increasingly competitive workplace. Which makes it easy to get “run over” by aggressive colleagues who have no trouble snatching your ideas and running with them.

What can you do? Begin by speaking more assertively. Try to eliminate qualifiers like “maybe” and “perhaps” from your conversation. Drop “tag questions” from the end of your statements. For example, instead of saying, “I think we should hire a new graphic designer, don’t you?” say “I think we should hire a new graphic designer.” Make a statement then bite your tongue. Adding tags like “don’t you?” at the end of a statement makes you seem uncertain and deferential.

Next, make sure you take credit for your ideas. Sitting in a meeting, for example, Jill suggests the team look into hiring a new graphic designer for the next project. No one picks up on her suggestion. Ten minutes later, Ed recommends asking several graphic designers to submit proposals for the new project. This time some one else picks up on “Ed’s” idea and builds on it. Naturally, Jill is annoyed because she had suggested the idea first.

Now Jill has two choices. She can either sit there and be annoyed AND let Ed have all the credit. Or, she can be proactive by saying something like, “Ed, I’m glad you liked my suggestion about hiring a new designer. I was thinking of Anne Nelson who did you have in mind?” this allows Jill to take back some of the credit without saying “I thought of that first!”

The key in these situations is to speak assertively and stand up for yourself without being confrontational. Be cool. Be calm. But, stick to your guns.

Being assertive isn’t easy, particularly for women. Studies indicate that men’s speech is considered forceful and assertive; women’s speech polite and respectful. That’s one of the reasons men get taken more seriously in business situations. While there is a fine line between assertive and aggressive, you can walk it.

Think before you speak. Next time you’re sitting in a meeting, concentrate on dropping qualifiers and “tag questions” from your speech. State your ideas clearly. Being assertive will help you get people to listen not just hear what you say. And that’s one of the first steps to being successful.

About Annette Richmond, MA

Annette Richmond, MA, CARW, CCELW, is a Certified Resume Writer, Certified LinkedIn Profile Writer, and former recruiter. Her career advice has been featured by Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Business Insider, Monster, Vault, and WSJ. She helps motivated, senior level professionals tell their unique career story. She also serves as executive editor of career-intelligence.com.


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