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  • Julia Ofner

Like a lion. Speak-up or shut-up? Fostering English SPEAK-UP-CULTURE remotely.

Updated: May 25


Your Powertool is your English voice!


Speak-up culture, diagnosis & definition.

How often do you listen to non-native speakers and wonder what they have just said? Speaking-up in front of the camera, is it more difficult? Do you work in a speak-up culture feeling safe to raise issues of concern or new ideas?

Let us imagine a world where people speak-up without fear.

Let us imagine a world where people do not instantly feel judgment.

Let us imagine a world where people are more empathetic and less perfectionist.

Diagnosing softly, we are not yet there but already on the way to this new world of speak-up culture 3.1. Fact is, people, communicate on emotions so if they don´t feel safe in the jungle, hence they speak-up less. But what is a speak-up culture? ASpeak up culture” defines a healthy, encouraging & caring business environment, where team members feel safe & free to share their ideas, opinions, and concerns, without any fear of recrimination or sanction. A cross-cultural-speak-up culture uses a lingua Franca in order to communicate across the globe, here English is the most commonly spoken language.


Lion, tiger, or kitty?

Today´s business world is full of non-natives communicating in English, all trying to understand each other while dealing with hot topics around the globe. Research claims that teams work more efficiently when they get an authentic voice, a clearly established speak-up culture nurturing impact. But why is it so difficult to foster a speak-up culture in companies? Here some reasons that block a healthy speak-up culture in English cross-culturally:

  1. Ship or sheep, read or red. What did you say? Global companies are characterized by a broad cultural diversity of speakers communicating in English as their lingua Franca, the bridge language for interchanging information globally. Fact is, the variety of different accents, dialects, and specific communicative behaviors are codes that significantly weaken the speak-up culture. Further, a lack of confidence and insecurity of English pronunciation go hand in hand. Clear English voicing is a key skill to ensure your messages are understood by your global audiences whether in Spain, England, Austria, or any other country or continent.

  2. Behind the bush. Silence is safe. The "comfort- zone silence", the most common strategy to avoid any confrontation or attack differs according to countries, companies, and departments. However, remote meetings & workshops facilitate this silence comfort zone, as the silent & invisible listener stays safe and rather unrecognized in the jungle of strange sounds and words.

  3. Hide your head in the sand. Fear blocks. To speak out of turn, misunderstandings, judgment, or public questioning are hard to take in your native-tongue, compelled to shut up in English. Weak communication & language skills are hunting speakers that try to keep up with their professional image in English. The feeling of not being at height or less professional presenting ideas in English is extremely limiting any cross-cultural speak-up culture.

  4. Make/speak up your mind. Weak decision-making skills: "To be, or not to be", William Shakespeare asked his audience in Hamlet. To live or not to live is for many the decision-making process whether to speak up or to shut-up. Hamlet had to decide between life or suicide, we should decide for life & honest and skilled communication asking why, how, and when to speak up.

There is a close and beneficial relationship between speak-up culture, employee engagement & innovative output, together with cultural, gender, and age diversity of teams.

No doubt, speak-up culture should be a priority for any leader as it is a communicative settle down that builds up an authentic comfort zone for team members to speak up. To cultivate a flourishing workplace in global companies, the comfort of expressing innovative solutions or new business models is key to success.

Teams work more efficiently with an authentic English voice and more speak-up culture.

Driving up to success, fear of being judged together with poor communication & language skills are the roadblocks of any global speak-up culture. However, raising ideas, communicating opinions, and suggestions trigger impact, increase confidence and collaboration. A well established speak-up culture is an essential brick for building a strong house able to withstand any weather conditions.


FOSTER A SPEAK-UP CULTURE IN YOUR TEAM

Speak the same language, management 3.1.


POWER TOOL VOICE

Give a voice to all team members and make sure that they have the English communication skills they need to express themselves professionally. Verbal & emotional agility together with clarity and fluency will significantly lift up any speak-up culture. To boost up their confidence give them the support & coaching to strengthen their expressiveness and self-confidence communicating cross-culturally. A strong voice comes from inside and fear may block the freedom of the speaker. Cross-cultural impact coaching helps to understand and identify possible programs and mindsets influencing the speak-up performance of each person.

CREATE OUTSIDE-THE BOX ENVIRONMENT

Creative and new ideas can only grow in a garden where there are already flowers planted.

So, be creative yourself and offer your own outside the box input and trigger innovation with enthusiasm. Stress management needs to be addressed properly as creativity is blocked by pressure & fear of rejection.

TRANSPARENCY & ROAD-MAPPING

Risk analysis and conversations help to understand vulnerability. The design of a roadmap guiding towards a transparent speak-up culture is key to increase safety. Building your team´s trust and clear process road-mapping provide confidence not being punished for speaking up, sharing thoughts, and feelings.

LISTEN CAREFULLY & PROVIDE ACTIONABLE FEEDBACK

Listening skills are the seeds and feedback is the fertilizer for more speak-up culture, weekly meetings should be a top priority. Leading and managing teams is all about caring, guiding, and inspiring people. Give immediate & concrete well-framed feedback, first positive then constructive. Feedback helps to improve the speak-up culture process and hence provides evidence to encourage others to speak up. Ask also for feedback on your own decisions/ actions and be transparent when a peer changed your mind. Feeding constructive words back to someone is always a win-win for both.

FEEDBACK IMPLEMENTATION & SUCCESS SHARING

Transparency and credit sharing are key to team success. Open the discussion for speak-up success stories and promote a cultural shift of communication having all the positive side effects of team productivity & innovation.

THE SPEAK-UP-POLICY

To publically welcome and implement a "speak-up policy" may is worth a thought as it creates global impact and brings teams closer together. A clearly designed policy sharing the guidelines with all employees may is the root-planting of a tree that will give sweet fruits nurturing the global company culture. Bringing teams closer together is the long-term goal while motivating them to communicate and share information around the globe.

Listening skills are the seeds and feedback is the fertilizer for more speak-up culture. Leading teams is all about caring, guiding, and inspiring people.

THE OFNER IMPACT - SPEAK-UP- RECIPE

Speak up and voice your opinion/ problem/ solution fearlessly.

Pay attention to your communication, how do you provide your speech.

Educate yourself to use the right words, tone & body language in a positive mindset.

Ask for feedback, support, and coaching.

Know your goals and get aware of the impact of your messages.

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Use framing techniques and communicate briefly & emotionally neutral.

Participate in the discussion and accept different opinions.


Speak up like a lion but be aware & care about the kitty inside of you.

PLEASE NOTE

"to speak out of turn": to say something inappropriate

"speak the same language": to agree

"speak your mind": say what you think

"to hide one´s head in the sand:" to avoid a particular situation by pretending it doesn't exist



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