Career Corner: Speaking Up in Meetings | AIChE

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Career Corner: Speaking Up in Meetings

Career Corner

Meetings are an inevitable part of the workweek for most of us. Whether it is a department staff meeting, senior executive briefing, or even an informal breakroom chat, we must interact with our coworkers, bosses, clients, and others. Knowing how to communicate in these settings can be important to career advancement, but some individuals would rather have a tooth extracted than speak up in a meeting.

Those who are shy or introverted may be uncomfortable expressing themselves in a group setting. They may prefer to listen quietly and not make eye contact, which can come across as a lack of interest in the meeting topic. New employees or team members may also hesitate to participate in the group discussion. “The newest person on the team may be trying to get the lay of the land and therefore not speak up,” says Eileen Sinett, President of Speaking that Connects, a Plainsboro, NJ-based communications coaching firm. “Unfortunately, to the boss, this can look as if they are mentally absent from the meeting.”

Sinett has coached individuals for whom English was not their primary language, who were reticent in meetings. “These employees had been hired to analyze data. For that role, it was permissible to converse in Japanese. But then they were thrust into a setting where they were expected to update senior managers who only spoke English. The employees’ English skills were poor,...

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