Whether it be in the workplace or between close confidantes, voicing concerns tactfully requires a certain degree of effort – especially when facing delicate situations. The fear is real; we risk putting ourselves in compromising positions that can potentially affect how we are perceived, but at the same time we do recognise that some things must be said.
If you feel frustrated at your lack of ability to voice something out, don’t worry. Just like making friends, it is a proper social skill that you need to cultivate. Over time, you will be able to approach conflict with ease – and it all starts with a little bit of patience and some mental preparation.
Here are 5 ways to voice your concerns without coming off rude:
- Listen to understand, not to respond.
Most people generally love listening to themselves – which is why they only listen to respond. But the purpose of listening is to understand and acknowledge. When you feel like tensions are high, take a moment and pause. Instead, turn your attention to the other person and really listen to what they are saying.
Even though they might trigger warning bells in your head, keep your composure and acknowledge where they are coming from. People are also complex beings with their own ways of thinking and comprehension. Try and approach them in a way that you’d like to be approached.
Simple sentences like “I see your point” or “I understand why you say that” will go a long way. It makes the other person feel heard and not be on the defensive. You, in return, get to control how the conversation goes without risks of misunderstandings and arguments.
Once the tension dissipates, you are now able to bring your points to the table in a calm manner. Which brings me to my second point:
- Articulate, articulate, articulate.
Or in other words, know what you want to say and how to say it.
Now, unless you’re able to coherently structure your thoughts in the moment, you will not be able to easily know what to say and how to say them immediately. Instead, the best practice is to be as specific as possible with your concerns. Before raising your issues, set a proper goal in mind, and it has to be specific.
For example, if you’re trying to raise an issue about a recent incident with a client at work, pinpoint the exact issue. Use the 5W1H method if you must to construct a proper case. What happened with the client? Why is this a cause for concern? How can we approach this issue?
Write them down, too, if you are more comfortable. The goal is to be specific about what you want to bring up.
- Be Objective
Emotions can be the bane of existence when not exercised properly. Emotional attachments blur your rationality, so it’s best to leave that at the door when you want to make your case. This isn’t a pledge to be emotionless, however. People are innately built to feel, let’s start acknowledging that – but what separates these conditions is the ability to present your concerns rationally and clearly while keeping your biases in check. After all, we are only human.
- So What’s The Solution?
Nobody likes a chronic complainer. Thinking about addressing something that concerns you? Good. It means you have values and virtues that you abide by. It is respectable, and admirable. What isn’t though, is if it is a mask for a long, unbearable rant. A problem without suggesting solutions is simply complaining, so propose a solution. If the issues you are raising are bigger than you or out of your control, invite a collaboration of efforts to propose for a way to deal with them.
Nobody likes a chronic complainer.
- Not Your Concern Anymore
When you’ve said all you needed to say, and when you’ve done all that can be done, sometimes the best solution is to disengage. This varies, of course, from situation to situation – but ultimately, if things are beyond your control, there is no use in holding onto it. Frustrating as it may be, there is a limit to the amount of power you have as an individual, and without proper support from people around you, fighting an army alone doesn’t seem like a very bright idea, does it?
Proceed with caution, and be wise about your decisions. Walking away is not cowardice, but sometimes it is a necessity.
Ultimately, voicing your concerns can be seen as a form of empowerment and a way to stand your ground, especially when knowing that it is the right thing to do. We have been accustomed to a more modest and conservative lifestyle, one that prioritises amiability more than truth but it’s high time we change that – however, remember to do it with calmness and objectivity.