What Strategies Can I Use to Ensure My Voice is Heard?


September 2023

Jessica Bensch
Jessica Bensch

Ever been in a meeting with an idea or concern but hesitated to share it? You're not alone. It's a familiar scenario: we want to speak up, but fear holds us back.


Some of us gather the courage to voice our thoughts, only to feel they've fallen on deaf ears or haven't resonated to the depth we'd hoped. 

It's not an isolated experience. Research from The Workforce Institute at UKG paints a concerning picture: 86% of employees believe that their voices in their organization aren't heard fairly or equally.

Even more concerning, nearly half, 47%, feel that underrepresented voices remain undervalued by employers.

Beyond just communication, this reflects the essence of psychological safety in the workplace. 

Being heard isn't just about personal satisfaction. It's the cornerstone of a positive and productive professional environment.

So, how can you ensure that your voice not only echoes but leaves an impact in the professional environment?

Employee Voice: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

At its essence, the 'employee voice' represents how individuals share their thoughts and ideas with their employers. But it goes beyond just articulating thoughts.

Giving employees a voice is about instilling confidence in speaking up, giving them diverse ways to connect, and ensuring their ideas directly influence organizational strategies.

John Kotter, a notable business author, captured this sentiment in his book Leading Change: "A lack of employee voice is a major barrier to organizational change. When employees feel like their voices are not heard, they're less likely to support change initiatives."

So, why prioritize this voice? Because when team members witness their input shaping the organization's path, they feel integral to its journey.

They don’t just clock in and out; they actively steer the company's destiny. This engagement becomes revolutionary.

Navigating the Stakes: When and How to Speak Up

Within the diverse environment of workplace interactions, every conversation carries its own weight and significance. 

Your ability to recognize and navigate these situations can be the difference between how your voice echoes through the corridors of your career.

Low-Stake Situations: Everyday Interactions

Think about the times you've given feedback on a colleague's work, suggested a new approach, asked a question during a meeting, or pitched an idea during a brainstorming session.

These instances may seem routine, but they are vital components of daily professional interactions.

In these moments, conversations tend to flow naturally, and you can share your thoughts more freely, knowing you're being heard. These aren't scenarios where the entire course of a project hangs in the balance.

To put it in perspective:

Desire from the interaction + Predicted outcome = Low-stake scenario

High-Stake Situations: Spotlight Moments

Imagine a scenario where you need to report a safety hazard, challenge a manager's decision, voice concerns about discrimination, or raise an ethical red flag. 

Each of these situations is a testament to the moments when your every word, gesture, and nuance can shape the course of events.

It's natural to feel an added layer of hesitancy or even fear in such situations. These are the times when the weight of responsibility feels real.

To make it clearer:

Your stakes in the conversation + Outcome’s unpredictability = High-stake scenario.

Understanding these situations is key.

When you know what's at stake, you can prepare and communicate more effectively. This not only amplifies your voice but also boosts your confidence to stand by what you say. 

The benefits? It enhances team cohesion, fosters mutual respect, and boosts overall morale.

Amy Edmondson in one of her journal articles mentions that in environments where psychological safety prevails, individuals consistently voice their thoughts, regardless of the stakes. 

In a truly inclusive workspace, every voice counts and every perspective enriches the collective narrative.

Strategies for Employees to Ensure Their Voice is Heard

With the right strategies in place, you can pave the way for your ideas to resonate and be heard.

  • Plan Ahead

Before diving into a conversation or meeting, take a moment. Consider the main points you want to address. When you come prepared, your thoughts are clearer and more organized. 

As Susan David, psychologist and author of Emotional Agility mentions, "The more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel, and the more likely you are to be heard."

This can significantly enhance the impact of your voice.

  • Show Confidence

Your voice carries more weight when it’s backed by confidence. Believe in what you're saying. 

Even if you feel unsure inside, presenting your ideas with assurance can make others more receptive to them.

  • Build Credibility

While adjusting your message for your audience is key, always remain true to your core idea. 

Articulate what you genuinely feel or believe. 

John Kotter, a business author and consultant, rightly stated, "Credibility is essential for being heard. When people trust you and believe in your expertise, they are more likely to listen to what you have to say."

By being honest in your communications, others will trust not only in what you say but also in your ability to deliver on your words. 

  • Persistence is Key

Sometimes, even the best thoughts can be overlooked. It's not a reflection on the quality of the idea, but perhaps its timing or setting.

If you believe in what you're saying, stand by it. Raise it again. Persistence ensures you remain on the radar and, over time, you'll find your voice gaining traction.

Empowering Your Voice in the Workplace Journey

Your voice, ideas, and insights have a unique place in the professional landscape. 

While the instinct to hold back, driven by uncertainty or apprehension, can sometimes be overpowering, remember that with the right approach and unwavering belief in your message, you'll not just speak – you'll resonate.

For organizations, it's imperative to walk alongside, carving out spaces where every employee feels secure and inspired to share. 

As employees find their voice and companies nurture this dialogue, it sets the stage for shared growth, fruitful collaborations, and a thriving work culture. 

Let your voice be the beacon that drives change.