No matter where in the world we are, from an early age we have been conditioned to “fit in”. And if we don’t, it is our fault. We have been trained to keep our personal lives completely separate from our professional lives, our views to ourselves, speak only when spoken to, and it goes on.
Our inner voice, our personality, our thoughts remain as just that – “inner”.
So how can you bring out that inner voice, unleash your confidence and allow your personality to shine? After all, this is what makes diversity and inclusion go hand in hand.
If you are a company, your business thrives when your team members contribute alternative ideas that promote innovation. We call this creativity. And diverse voices result in creativity.
However, we have been “taught” and prepared that to succeed in the workforce, we must think like everyone else. We should agree with our peers, and it goes without saying, laugh at our boss’ jokes.
The term “groupthink” was first used by social psychologist Irving Janis, to describe the psychological phenomenon of a well-intentioned group working together to make decisions, and by doing so, striving for harmony and consensus. The flip side however, is that groupthink discourages individuals from seemingly disagreeing with others in the group, thereby keeping their ideas and any creative thoughts, to themselves.
So how can you move away from the norm, and reinvigorate your creativity, your inner voice at work? Here are some hacks to get you started:
1. Bring yourself to work. Yes, there is professional etiquette, but don’t let that stop “you” from shining through. The once upon a time of leaving your personal experiences under lock and key at home has now changed.
2. Take time to observe. Spend some time taking in what’s what at work, understand current processes. Then think about what stands out to you and what could potentially be changed.
3. Remain enthusiastic and helpful in your team meetings and tasks. This way you are seen as a team player, can build rapport with your colleagues, with the aim of having added credibility when presenting your points.
4. Take a step back and listen. To formulate your opinions and ideas for change, start by analyzing the current method of doing things. That means, be the “fly on the wall” in order to observe, listen and take detailed notes.
Then say what you think, remembering first that…
5. Presentation is key. In order to voice your opinions in a constructive way, first acknowledge any positive feedback or observations from the current methodology. Then present your alternative thoughts showing any research or background information you can provide.
6. Structure your delivery. Order your key points logically and methodologically, providing alternative discussion points. Leave time for debate and encourage discussion.
7. Follow up. If you want to change something, then stick with your idea. This means getting feedback, taking it onboard, then making any necessary adjustments in order to see it through. Be proactive and carve out airspace to follow up on your idea.