What does it mean to be BOLD?

4 ways to be bold in the workplace.

So, here goes. My first “proper” blog/article/writing piece. (Be kind please people!)

You see that girl in the image above? That’s me. Metaphorically me, obviously, plus, my hair is really curly. She and I are the same in many ways. When this statue first appeared, I was drawn to her and I instantly felt as though we shared the same values, even before I knew what she stood for.

One value in particular is around being courageous… however I feel more comfortable with the word “Bold”.

As a mash up of several similar definitions of the word “Bold”, I like this one:

To speak up, speak out or take action despite the risks.

Being bold is not about being loud, opinionated, dominating or debating for the sake of it. It’s about speaking up about what matters. It’s about being bothered. Being bothered by something so much that you are bothered to actually do something.

There are plenty of things that we all let slide, which means we’re either not bothered enough by them or we couldn’t be bothered to do anything about them because the ROI isn’t there.

I’m talking about bigger-ticket items that matter:

  • A child being bullied on the bus you take to work
  • A colleague experiencing workplace bullying
  • Your boss being unreasonable
  • Giving some feedback to change their destructive behaviour
  • A colleague taking advantage of the company
  • Knowledge of an abusive relationship
  • Applying for that promotion you’ve wanted
  • Resigning from the job you hate
  • ….there’s plenty more

Think for a moment about a conversation you’d love to have with someone, anyone. A conversation that is necessary, but you’ve been avoiding it. Or you’ve had a feeble attempt but you Glad/Saran-Wrapped it up in the good ‘ol “sandwich technique” (all the things they are amazing at….. the one thing that bothers you……then more stuff they are amazing at), or you danced around or diluted the message completely.

Here’s what that looks like.

Example: a colleague often makes sexist jokes in an attempt at humour.

What the feeble attempt to be bold looks like:

  • Nervous laughter
  • Breaking eye contact when they deliver the punchline
  • Avoiding the joke-teller
  • Talking about the joke-teller to other colleagues, all in agreeance at the offensive nature (gossiping)
  • Telling the boss/manager

Now, think for a minute about why we don’t just come right out and stand up for what matters here.

Whenever there is a situation that “matters” and requires me to be bold, I ask the question:

If I had no fear, what would I do/say?

I love this question. When you can truly focus on the answer to this, it cuts through all the judgement, noise, risk, consequences and hesitation. It leads you to the shortest possible word count of articulating the issue as you’re not concerned about niceties, politeness or being offensive. It cuts right to the actual problem.

Now, I’m not saying that these are the words you should use, however I am recommending to ask yourself this question because it will also help you to work out if this really matters. If it doesn’t, then, (sing along with me “Frozen” fans) Let it go.

Fear stops us from doing so much. In the workplace it stops us from speaking up about things that matter as we are worried about offending or upsetting someone, or even how it will affect our own reputation. But what about you, the actual person who is upset?

Where are your loyalties? To yourself or to someone else?

In order to get what you want and deserve in the workplace, here are 4 ways you can be bold:

  1. Give feedback.
    Come from a place of ‘this person deserves to know’ (unless they are a mind-reader, then skip to the next point).
  2. Use the “9/11” technique of “if you see something, say something”.
    You don’t need to have a perfectly orchestrated monologue to deliver, but if you see something that matters, then start a conversation about it with someone. Two heads are better than one, collectively you’ll find a way.

  3. Include others.
    Nothing hurts like exclusion (I know this because I’ve been there).
    Be the person Bold enough to invite the un-popular person for coffee. Not only is that bold, it’s also kind, will fill your soul, will possibly make their day and also gives you street cred for being a good human.

  4. Ask questions.
    Challenge things respectfully.
  • When was the last time we tried a new process for X?
  • Would there be any negative impact if we moved XX deadline to next week instead?
  • What is the reason this deadline is so short?
  • I didn’t understand X’s presentation, would you please explain the key parts to me?
  • This isn’t something I’ve experienced before, who can I learn from about this?

Being bold in the workplace is necessary for driving performance.
Challenge yourself to try any or all of the above points and see how liberating it feels!