How to Overcome Feeling Uncomfortable with Sharing at Work

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Legacy Speaks Tips for Sharing at Work

There are days in the office that are notorious for meetings centered around team-building activities, company check-ins, skills building, and continuing education. One thing you can guarantee at these gatherings is the invitation to share but the truth of the matter is, some colleagues don’t feel safe to do so. This can be a result of the office culture, a specific colleague, or past experiences. If you don’t feel comfortable discussing certain topics in the workplace, here are a few ways to approach them.

Talk to a Trusted Colleague or Supervisor

Everyone deserves to be heard and have their experience validated in the workplace. By taking this approach, you are creating the opportunity to have more meaningful conversations on a one-on-one basis rather than in front of a group of people. This can also grant you the support and guidance needed and solidify your position as a valued contributor to the team.

With these conversations being more personal, it is highly recommended that you be prepared to engage in dialogue. Remember that these are people that you trust and that they may have valuable insights or suggestions to offer, so be open to receiving feedback. This can help you to improve your performance and build a better working relationship with these individuals as well.

Redirect the Conversation

Before redirecting the conversation, it’s important to acknowledge the other person’s point of view. As stated before, everyone deserves to be heard and have their experience validated in the workplace. Now, to what degree and for how long is completely determined by how the conversation is going. If you’re probably wondering what redirecting looks like in action, here are a few examples that you can employ any of the following:

  • “I appreciate your perspective, but I’d like to discuss something else.”
  • “I understand where you’re coming from, but let’s talk about something else.”
  • “That’s an interesting point, but…”

You can also redirect the conversation by providing insight on an adjacent topic and then tie it in with the area of focus to showcase its relevance. Using this transitional tactic helps shepherd the conversation without coming across as rude. The person’s statement is acknowledged and utilized as a springboard for something more relevant and less awkward. Below are some examples of how this can be executed:

  • “Speaking of something else, have you heard about…”
  • “I’ve been meaning to ask you, have you had a chance to look at…”
Set Boundaries

Now I have to be honest about something: There are times when redirecting the conversation will not work. There’s always that one person who has the burning desire to get their point across just to be heard. Moments such as these can be challenging but no worries! This is where self-advocacy comes in. Setting boundaries can help you manage the conversation and avoid becoming overwhelmed. Learn to say no to conversations that you don’t have the capacity to take on.

Set boundaries by politely letting your colleagues know that you are not comfortable with discussing the current topic at hand. You have the right to respectfully decline. If the other person continues to push the conversation in a direction you’re not comfortable with, it’s okay to be firm and polite. You can say something like “I’m sorry, but I’m not comfortable discussing this right now. Can we talk about something else?”

If all else fails, it’s okay to politely exit the conversation by saying, “I’m sorry, but I have to go take care of something. Let’s catch up later.”

Gain Mental Health Support

Seek a therapist to explore your discomfort or anxiety around sharing in the workplace. This process can look different for everyone based on their needs but at the core of it, you will be encouraged to explore the source of your uncomfortability. Is it related to your job tasks, your relationship with your colleagues, or something else? Once you have identified the source, you can work on addressing it directly.

Also, don’t overlook Human Resources as an option as well. I know – not all Human Resource departments are created equal. However, if you need support or assistance from your employer, don’t hesitate to ask for it. Schedule a time to meet with an HR specialist to let them know what you need in order to thrive within your current organization. Together, you should be able to come up with a plan that will help you move forward. This can include the utilization of an Employee Assistance Program or Employee Resource Group.

Remember, it’s normal to feel nervous or anxious when discussing sensitive personal matters, but communicating openly and honestly with those you trust, setting boundaries, and seeking professional expertise can help you to find solutions and move forward in a positive way.

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