Find your courage. Speak up!

Communicators often face the dilemma of being pushed against the wall. Do you remember the days when you felt that just about everything came to you? That it is you who was expected to lead even where there was a lead already identified? That you were expected to close all the loose ends even when ownership had been clearly defined? Strikes a chord doesn’t it?

In such situations, it is important that to push back and clearly define your stated boundaries. Saying ‘no’ is never an easy job. Those who stand their ground run the risk of being viewed a naysayers and spoilsports and not open to collaboration. Tensions can run deep in such a situation. Standing up for your beliefs, being clear about your work and using your competencies to shape conversations and outcomes is what skillful communication is all about. 

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” – Winston Churchill

Being courageous

However, skillful communication alone is not enough. What is also needed is –courage. Courage to face adversities and come out a winner. Being courageous comes in many forms.

  • Do not let work pressure pressurise you

It really does not matter whether you are the CEO of a company or have just started your career – across the spectrum of hierarchies, if there is one common thread that binds everyone, it is the job pressure. There are so many instances when we buckle under that pressure. Wherein we sit for long hours, wherein work-life balance is a mere nice sounding phrase on paper, and the work never seems to end. Do not let work pressure get under your skin. Be courageous and take short breaks. Focus on other things. Continuous focus on just one task for days and weeks at length may actually impair clarity of thought.

  • Reach out

In our daily work load, we often forget that we are not the only one feeling the heat. On many occasions, it may feel that your battles are your own to win. While that may be true at a philosophical level, remember, workplace is not an island. Everyone is connected and the overall objective for all colleagues is organisational success. Take the courage to share your problem with someone else. Unburden without bothering about the righteousness of it all. You will be surprised to find that you are not alone.

  • Challenge yourself

We don’t realise it but challenging oneself calls for courage. When given a task, ask yourself – have you given your best? If not, push yourself. Have the courage to be audacious in your solutions and even in your questions. Curiosity has not taken anyone’s job.

  • Say No

The Bollywood Hindi movie ‘Pink’ is most remembered for its dialogue – ‘No means no.’ Look around and you will need examples where you could have refused a particular job because it demanded time that you didn’t have, because it called for skills that someone else had and because it called for a domain expertise of which you were not an expert. How does one wriggle out of such situations? By being honest. Say no where you mean it. Stand your ground and explain your reasons. A ‘no’ backed by solid rationale rarely fails. Stay firm. That is being courageous.

  • Accept the failings

Never the easy one but always the most critical aspect of being courageous – admit to the failures. Learn to accept the failings. Be prepared for introspection. Turn a failure around its head by asking what could have been done better? Avoid the undivided attention on the most common question – why did things go wrong? Admit. Accept. Accelerate towards change. That should be the mantra.

Effective and skilled communication demands that you have the courage to speak up, push back with rationale, learn from failures and that you never stop challenging yourself.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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