In the past year, so many sterile processing (SP) leaders have stepped out and up to express their voices. They’ve done this on social media, at conferences, and in publications just like this. It’s a beautiful thing to see the industry elevated to new heights. For years, SP departments have supported the operating room and voices have sounded like a whisper yell more than a confident voice of authority, and that is changing. Yet, for some of us, it’s still hard to express our voice and concerns and speak with authority. This article will cover some considerations for you when it comes to speaking with authority as an industry expert, and how to elevate your confidence.

Speaking with authority

Whether you are in your hospital, at a conference, or posting media online, the truth is people will listen when you speak boldly and with confidence. Here are four suggestions on how to speak with authority when putting yourself out there:

  1. Tell your audience about your industry experience and what makes you qualified to speak on the topic.
  2. Regardless of the context, be sure you’ve done your research and speak from an educated point of view versus an emotional one. Provide the facts clearly and concisely.
  3. Be consistent in your requests and communication. Repeating what you post online may seem redundant, but your audience doesn’t see what you post every time. If it’s important to your department or your personal mission, it’s worth repeating. You will only sound like a broken record to yourself. If you are a department manager seeking request approvals (capital equipment, staff, etc.), you will likely have to build a case for your requests, present it, and relentlessly follow up on it.
  4. Know that not every request, speech, or media post will be a home run. It’s all part of the process; you have to relentlessly persist and move on.
Elevating your confidence

You may find yourself not relating to any of the above because you aren’t a supervisor, you don’t present, or you aren’t an online creator (or haven’t started building your personal brand yet). Maybe you are new to the SP universe and don’t post on social media, and the idea of speaking at a chapter event or conference makes you sweat just thinking about it. You are the majority of technicians out there, and that is 100% okay.

You might be perfectly content clocking in and out, putting your head down, and getting the job done. Yet, there is probably, deep down, some desire for department changes or career advancement. You have valid concerns and experiences and your voice needs to be expressed in a professional fashion, but you think no one will listen to you.

They will listen eventually, but that all depends on you. It depends on how you bring concerns to the table, how you express yourself, and how you show up. All of those factors are within your control. That said, to be bold enough to express yourself, you have to build up your confidence. Confidence is asking yourself, “Do I believe in my ability to figure things out?”

Working up to authority

Let’s walk through a few ways become more confident:

  1. Find a way to work on your personal development daily, whether it’s from a book, podcast, or following other leaders.
  2. Practice the art of vulnerability and share your insecurities. Sharing “I don’t know” and asking the right coworkers what they would do is powerful.
  3. Don’t always shoot for the stars. Try integrating small things; for example, share an idea for process improvement once a week at work and celebrate the fact that you shared your idea every Friday. As you get more small personal wins, you will gain momentum.
  4. Increase your competencies in whatever area you are seeking to gain confidence.
  5. Take action, even if it’s small actions. You can start speaking to a small group and work up to larger ones. You can start creating one piece of social media content a week by sharing a lesson you learned. Pretty graphics aren’t required; start with a text-only post. You can also start your networking by setting a weekly goal to connect with three industry professionals a week.

Speaking with authority comes with time and experience, but it is within each of us as SP professionals to start building up ourselves and others. Gone are the days of victim mode, and statements like “we are not respected as professionals.” We must start acting like, and establishing ourselves as, the industry experts we are.