4 Simple Phrases Shy Employees Use to Make Their Voices Heard

Woman speaking on virtual meeting

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Ekua Cant206
Career Transitions & Career Change Coach
April 23, 2024 at 4:6AM UTC

Advocating for yourself in the workplace is one of the top skills that women need to advance their careers. So if your goal for 2022 is to practice speaking up, these phrases should help you feel confident to make your contribution and advocate for what you want at work. Your work does not always speak for itself — so you need to get visible and take ownership of your work today and always.

I’ve been there myself and know from a couple of different perspectives about what it feels like to be worried about speaking up and advocating for myself; I’ve had to navigate being a woman in a male-dominated industry in addition to being a Black woman in a leadership position. 

When I was a project manager working for a public sector organization, I felt worried about being labeled as an “angry Black woman” for raising my voice assertively on important issues. I felt anxious as a 5’1” woman that I didn’t take up much space and would easily be dismissed as I was speaking. I worried about the pace and pitch at which I spoke. I wanted to be taken seriously and often wondered if I lacked gravitas and presence every time I was speaking in an important meeting.  

For a while, I let these issues dominate my thoughts and my actions. One day, I realized I was hired to do a job and they already trusted in me — so I needed to learn to trust in myself, and to speak with confidence and less hesitancy. 

I began to take steps to be less hesitant and to own my role and my voice. I learned the value and importance of why I must speak up and how to do that way that was authentic and congruent with my values. The more empathetic and self-aware you become, the easier it is to get the support, help and tools you need to develop a strong sense of self-advocacy and share your value in the workplace. 

Here are phrases I used to make my voice heard.

1. “I’d like to say…” or “Can I add X?”

These phrases are great ways to confidently indicate that you’d like to share your opinion. They act as polite, straightforward ways to add your thoughts to the conversation.

2. “Let me know if you have any questions and if you’d like me to elaborate further.”

Confident people want to hear feedback from others to make their work better. When you would like to elicit feedback or check for understanding of what you have communicated, use this phrase.

3. “Based on my understanding, I believe X and Y.”

Use this phrase when you want to caveat that you’re not an expert and leave room for open discussion. This welcomes other people to build on your knowledge or what you communicated. 

4. “I know X and I will do some research and come back to you with further information.”

It can be scary to admit that you don’t know something, but confident people are honest about what they know and are always willing to learn. Use this phrase when you don’t have all the answers yet and you’ll come back to them when you have further information. 

What’s your no. 1 phrase to use to make your voice heard at work? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss'ers!

This article was written by a Fairygodboss Contributor.

Ekua Cant is the Head Cheerleader for Career Magic, Be Your No.1 Cheerleader and an author and career clarity coach. She is no stranger to career change or transitions and is using her positive style to coach ambitious women to unlock their mindset, gain career clarity and create career success on their own terms. She has led multi-million-pound public sector digital transformations. She is the author of a motivational self-help book called, Be Your No.1 Cheerleader, which uses the entrepreneurial journey to encourage active positive self-development.

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