Have you ever been in a meeting where 2 people said exactly the same thing but one person got heard and the other did not? Have you ever been on a conference call and felt like you were speaking to the mute button? Perhaps you know that feeling of being ignored.
Sometimes its position. If you are the boss, your speaking will likely be heard. Sometimes its politics that happens. But often, you can give yourself a fighting chance with some careful preparation and positioning.
There is big risk in assuming it’s position or politics. It’s easy to blame the system. But before you shut down, it’s worth trying some new approaches to your speaking patterns.
Speaking To Be Heard
I was fortunate early in my career to have a great teacher on timing. My company had hired a consultant to do some important process work. I was a kid and the token HR person in the room– not the best combo for being heard. And, I was fired up and passionate about treating employees with respect, transparency, engagement (some things stay with us). The first few times I shared what I thought were vital points, I was ignored. The consultant pulled me aside on a break and said,
“everything you are saying is right on, but they can’t hear you, your timing is off.” Here’s the deal when I give you the look, you start talking employee engagement (not before). I will back you up, and ask provocative questions for them to consider.”
It worked masterfully. My voice was heard, and we started caring for the people side of the project. I paid close attention to the timing of her nods and learned the patterns. I was promoted shortly after.
6 Tips for Sending a Hearable Message
- Do your homework (what do people believe on this subject and why?)
- Bring a fact based-argument (what data do you have to support your case?)
- Stay calm with an even tone of voice (let the passion come through in the message, not volume)
- Wait for an appropriate time in the conversation to create a natural bridge to your ideas
- Respectfully listen to the opinions of others, and build on their ideas (resist the urge to tune out and prepare your bit)
- When possible, consider some advanced work with key stakeholders
- ? what would you add?