“I don’t know what to say.”
That is the biggest challenge when it comes to articulating your value and speaking your truth.
One of the reasons it’s so hard to know what to say is that we listen to the opinions of other people. Whether they are friends or colleague, articles from experts, or the messages from our parents – their opinions cloud our vision of what we want and the value of what it is we have to offer.
There is no more important work for you to do than to understand what you do well and why it matters to you. Once you understand those nuggets of information, you can begin to decide what it is you really want to do. Once you know what you want, then you can build the language to clearly articulate it.
But before you begin to tell the world all about your glory, ask yourself two questions:
First, why are you saying it?
When you begin to voice your value, your opinion, or your desire, it’s helpful to understand why you are saying it. Determine the point or strategy. If you are going to talk to your boss about your success on a project, what do you want to convey and why? Or do you just want out?
Maybe you want a raise or a promotion. Maybe you want to educate him or her on the complexity of a deal or project. Once you understand the reason you are saying it, you can begin to pull together the words that will best frame your point.
When you don’t take the time to understand and make your point – your voice falls flat. If you regularly speak up for yourself and it’s not moving you forward, you probably need to better understand what you want and what you expect.
Second, who are you saying it to?
Who you are talking to is important. If you don’t tell the right person, you won’t have much success. I know that sounds like common sense, but it is not common practice.
When you don’t tell the right person about your value, what you end up doing is complaining. You complain to people who don’t have the power to make a difference. You complain that you don’t get the credit you deserve. You complain that your boss/the company/your clients don’t value you because they don’t appreciate all the work you do.
If you are in a healthy work environment and they don’t appreciate you, it’s because you aren’t telling them why they should. Most importantly, if your conversation about your value is in the form of a complaint, you are giving your power over your career to someone else.
You are hoping that your value will be discovered. It won’t be discovered in a way that best serves you unless you uncover it. Don’t just hope or take chances with your success. Clearly articulate what you want and why.
If you need help building your voice and articulating your value, then get help. Find a mentor or a coach, but please take ownership of your career and where you want it to go.
Your voice is important and it needs to be heard.