TO SPEAK OR NOT to speak--that is the question. Conflict is uncomfortable so most of us would rather bite our tongues rather than put forward an opposing point of view. It can take courage, but there are reasons why you should speak up when you disagree. If you have a valid point of disagreement, you need to demonstrate your value to your team and to your company. Not speaking up can brand you as ineffective and harm your career. The following is some guidance about when to speak out and how to go about it:

1. Pick Your Battle - Is it worth fighting about? Ask yourself if the issue is critical or somewhere between trivial and middling. Everyone has a certain amount of social capital--how much of it are you willing to spend on speaking your mind.

2. Think Before you Leap - Take some time to consider your position. After some reflection, you might change your opinion, or realize that it's not worth arguing about.

3. Don't Make Things Worse--This was not your intention, but somehow that's the way it turned out. Try to put your view across with the aim of it leading to something productive.

4. Don't be Emotional - Never get into a disagreement if you are overly angry, anxious, or resentful. Don't tell the other person what a dim-witted creature they most resemble. Take some deep breaths and do your best to relax so that you can speak in a calm, respectful, non-confrontational manner.

5. It's Not Your Way or the High Way - Don't present your position as THE right one, but as one possibility to consider. This approach is more likely to produce a reasonable response. The moment you've put the other person on the defensive, you've blown it.

6. Give the Other Side a Chance - It might take some creativity on your part, but find something about the other person's view to support. This immediately makes for a friendlier atmosphere and the other person is more likely to give credence to your opinion.

7. Stick to Facts - What you "think" and "feel" is too subjective. Speak confidently and stick to the merits of your position backed up by insights and data.

"You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion." - Harlan Ellison

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