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“Who are you?! What do you want?! What are you doing here?! Speak to me, dummy! Speak! Why don’t you speak?!” -Max Bialystock (Larry David), The Producers
Great scene (5:40 to 6:08) from the HBO series, Curb Your Enthusiasm
I didn’t choose to use a video reference from this show just because it’s one of my favorites (ok, maybe I did), but rather because I felt this scene really shows how intimidating it can sometimes be to speak up for yourself, especially when dealing with someone that has a higher rank than you. But for any job really, we all struggle with the question of how to approach the boss about something that is really bothering us. Whether it’s unhappiness about our salary, issues with a client, or anything else in between, it’s difficult to figure out the right way to say something when it’s an issue we’re passionate about.
This is all ironic since part of our job is to communicate on a daily basis with a Director, Vice President or sometimes even a CEO, yet when it comes to communicating on behalf of ourselves to senior-level executives within our own company we tend to have more hesitations than usual, easily get rattled, or sometimes let our emotions get the best of us. So what do we do?
What I’ve learned over the past few years is that it’s all about one thing: Be Strategic, NOT implusive. With that in mind, I came up with an acronym for best practices when something is bothering you and you can’t wait to air your frustrations to the boss: T.H.I.N.K
T – Talk to a mentor about what you want to say before you say it
H – Have your favorite CD nearby or go for a walk and relax when feeling upset
I – Imagine how the reaction from your boss might be and plan accordingly
N – Never make the conversation just about your problems – have solutions ready
K – Keep your emotions in check
I’m trying to embrace this method and I hope it helps you as well.