For my first job in college, I worked as a sales associate at the local running store in my hometown. Before I was let loose to sell running shoes to customers, I studied the intricacies of shoe models for a week through an online learning portal.
On my first day, I strolled to the back room, plopped down on the 30-year-old swivel chair, and clicked the spacebar to open the computer. Instead of starting on the online portals, I realized there was a password standing between me and the Internet. Rather than standing up and finding my boss for the password, I sat and made a few guesses before I waited for 5–10 minutes for him to magically appear.
Eventually, my boss passed through my part of the store and asked how I was doing. I mentioned that I needed the password to get into the computer, and he told me something I will never forget, “I won’t know that I need to help you unless you say something.”
I wasn’t great at communicating with him the rest of the summer, but I still think about that quote to this day. When I don’t know whether I should say something or if someone else understands me, I ask myself, “Do I need to say something for the other person to know what I’m thinking?”
Speaking up is vital to the success of any team. In order for a team to function successfully, you have to share what is on your mind. You must share what you need to be successful. People don’t know that you need help unless you say something.
As much as some people in dating relationships or marriages expect their significant other to know what they are thinking or feeling at all times, people don’t know what you are thinking. You will not know exactly what the other person is thinking unless they say it. I am a twin, and even through twin telepathy, my brother and I can’t tell what the other is thinking 100% of the time.
Your boss is not sitting around thinking about your feelings all day. Your coach is not spending his or her free time thinking about if you have exactly what you need to be prepared for the workout the next day. Your teacher doesn’t sit in her office thinking about whether you understand the fifth sentence on a PowerPoint in the middle of a lecture. Your coach, manager, or leader is not a mind reader. The quickest way for your needs and wants to be heard is to speak up.
While sitting at a computer for 5–10 minutes trying to guess a password is not costing the company a lot of money on a minimum-wage paycheck, not speaking up at other moments may. Imagine being tasked with a project where you have to present to an executive in your company but your boss does not share the correct shared drive with the information you need. Imagine you were told to update a pitchbook for a client meeting and your boss did not give you the previous version that she told you to build on.
Every day you will be faced with moments where it is helpful to speak up quickly and effectively. The better you are at sharing what you need or what you think, the more time, money, and stress you can save yourself and your team.
I appreciate you.