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Whether in an interview, meeting or even one-on-one with someone at work, you may find it difficult to get your opinion across. This can have as much to do with your own personality as it does the situation in which you find yourself. The trick is not to give up. Voicing your opinion confidently is a skill you can develop over time, so here are a few tips to get you started:
Match their volume
Try to speak at the same volume as the person or people you’re talking to. If you’re really trying to make a point, it’s okay to speak a little louder, but don’t overdo it. Raised voices tend to come across as aggressive and can lead to arguments and defensive behaviour.
In a conversation, few things cause friction faster than someone who constantly interrupts, so make sure you try to allow people to finish making their point before you make yours – and you can expect the same courtesy from others. If you’re in a long meeting, a good idea is to make a note of your questions and wait until a natural break in the conversation to ask them.
Cut out words
Dropping a single word from a sentence can help to remove uncertainty and make you sound more assured. Imagine these examples with the words in bold removed.
· ‘I’m just an apprentice’
· ‘I’ll try and get it to you tomorrow’
· ‘I think it’ll take me about an hour’
It’s not about being blunt, which can bring with it a perception of rudeness, it’s about getting to the point quicker. Your audience will appreciate your directness.
Finding the right way to offer your thoughts can sometimes be tricky. Think about these introductions to frame your opinion.
· ‘In my view...’
· ‘I would say...’
· ‘Here’s my take on it...’
And don’t forget to recognise other people’s opinions too.
· ‘You have a point, but have you considered...’
· ‘I see what you mean. Why don't we compromise and...’
· ‘I hadn’t thought of it that way. In which case we could...’
Think about the sorts of questions you could be asked, but also the kinds of answers you would give. Planning ahead and arming yourself with these things will help give you the confidence to make your opinions heard.
Assertiveness is just one of many useful skills for the work environment. Get advice on building up lots of others here.