As a young employee, it can be challenging to command attention and be taken seriously in the workplace.
However, by mastering certain communication hacks and adopting the right body language, you can increase your chances of being taken seriously in the workplace.
1. Speak Slowly and Deliberately
When you speak really fast, it comes off like you’re afraid of being interrupted. Speaking quickly conveys nervousness and uncertainty.
To appear more confident, slow down your speech. Speak slowly and articulate your words clearly.
This helps to convey confidence and authority, keeping your listeners focused on your words.
To practice speaking more slowly, try emphasizing key words and taking deliberate pauses. This will give your speech a more measured and confident tone.
2. Interrupt the Interrupter as a Communication Hack
Getting interrupted while speaking is a common experience. It undermines your authority to engage in the conversation.
The best thing to do is call out the bad behavior. Don’t wait for the interruptor to stop, just interrupt them right back.
When this happens, make eye contact, raise your voice just slightly and ask, “May I finish?” to reclaim the floor and continue speaking.
By re-taking control of the conversation and asserting your right to be heard, you demonstrate confidence and assertiveness. Others will be less likely to interrupt you in the future, too.
3. Explain the Bigger Picture
Help others understand the context and significance of your ideas. By explaining the bigger picture first, you can help your colleagues and superiors see how your work fits into the broader scheme of things.
When speaking to those who are familiar with the subject, explaining the bigger picture can also help to reinforce your knowledge and expertise. This, in turn, can help to build your credibility and increase your assertiveness.
For instance, say you want to communicate the impact of your recent project.
Instead of just mentioning the details of the project, take time to explain the bigger picture by showing how your project fits into the company’s overall strategy.
This ensures that your boss understands the significance of your work and its value to the company. As a result, your boss will be more likely to support your future initiatives.
4. Avoid Making Statements Sound Like Questions
One common speech pattern that can undermine your assertiveness is called, “upspeak.”
This is when every sentence ends on a high pitch, making it sound like a question instead of a statement. This habit makes you sound like you’re questioning everything you say, detracting from the impact of your words.
To avoid upspeak, try to keep your tone level and avoid ending statements on a high pitch. If you need to convey uncertainty, you can use words like “I think” or “I believe.”
5. Use Signposts to Provide Structure
Using signpost words, such as “first,” “second,” and “third,” can help to clarify the structure of your speech and make it easier for others to follow.
This improves the clarity and impact of your ideas, making it more likely that they will be taken seriously.
Also consider using other transitional phrases, such as “in addition,” “on the other hand,” or “to summarize.” These terms guide the listener and make your speech more organized.
6. Eliminate Generic Fluff in Emails
Emails are a critical communication tool in the workplace. Everyone’s busy with work, and they have little time to read emails, though.
To make sure your emails are read, make sure they are direct, clear and to the point. Avoid using generic phrases, such as “hope you’re well” or “kind regards.”
These can detract from the substance of your message and make them appear less critical.
An example would be when you’re sending an email to a coworker about a project deadline.
Instead of starting the email with generic pleasantries, get straight to the point by saying, “Hello, it looks like we’re on track to finish by Friday. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.”
By keeping your email brief and focused, you convey professionalism and respect for your coworker’s time. As a result, your coworker is more likely to respond promptly and effectively.
7. Be Mindful of Your Tone of Voice
Your tone of voice greatly impacts how your words are received. For example, speaking in a monotone voice can make you sound uninterested and disengaged, while speaking in an overly aggressive or sharp tone can make you sound confrontational. Aim to speak in a calm and confident tone, modulating your pitch and inflection to emphasize important points.
For instance, imagine you’re presenting a proposal in a meeting. Instead of simply reading off of your slides, try to inject some enthusiasm and energy into your delivery. This strategy will help you to be taken more seriously in the workplace.
8. Skip the Exclamation Marks
In a business setting, there’s little reason to ever use exclamation marks, if ever. Maybe if your company wins an award or all the employees are getting bonuses, you could use an exclamation mark.
Otherwise, skip them.
Exclamation marks make you look like a junior who is eager to please.
Even worse is when you use more than one exclamation mark after a sentence, such as, “It’s the boss’s birthday tomorrow!!!”
One of the most useful tips to remember is to read your writing aloud.
If you read it aloud, you’ll see that those exclamation points are out of place at work.
For example, try reading this aloud so see how the second one is much more professional:
“Thank you for choosing me to be on the team! I can’t wait to get started! Let me know when the first meeting is and I’ll be there right on time!”
Now, read this aloud:
“Thank you for choosing me to be on the team. I’m looking forward to getting started. Please let me know when the first meeting is.”
9. Use Body Language to Your Advantage
Your body language can say just as much as your words, if not more.
Using effective body language can help you appear confident, engaged, and assertive. On the other hand, poor body language can make you appear defensive, uninterested, uncertain or even hostile.
Use open body language as much as possible. Don’t fold your arms over your body.
Use hand gestures when you speak to grab attention and ensure people listen to you.
For example, when you speak in a meeting, maintain eye contact, sit up straight, and use gestures to emphasize your points.
This will help you command attention and convey your message effectively. Mirroring the body language of the person you’re speaking to can help build rapport and make them feel more comfortable with you.
These communication hacks will help you to be taken more seriously in the workplace.
It’s okay that you need to use communication hacks. No one really teaches young employees how to be taken seriously at work.
Unless you studied communication skills specifically, it’s unlikely that you learned these things in school.
But now that you know these techniques, you can use them to ensure that you’re heard at work, and that your boss and your colleagues take you seriously.
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Founder of Eggcellentwork.com. With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.