July 2016: Make yourself heard

In a different way...

When we talk about self-confidence we do it in connection with how people come across when they are talking. When we talk about influencing we do so in relation to how persuasively a person fashions their arguments into coherent little speeches. When we talk about leadership we think of people who sound good when they are standing on top of a tank rallying the troops or at the podium addressing a room of shareholders with confidence and panache.

10-1 that most of the courses that you have done in your career around communication have focused on what to say and how to say it - even how to stand when you were saying it! 

But the emphasis on 'transmission' only covers the obvious part of persuasion, influencing, self-confidence, presence, leadership and every other desirable attribute that leaders are supposed to espouse today. 

It's not even half the story though. It's actually just the obvious 30%. The tip of the proverbial iceberg.

You see, if we really want people to sit up and listen, to take us and our ideas seriously we need to give them an incentive to do that. And assuming that you, like me, must earn your place in the room when you want to say something then we must do something to earn the attention. We must give something that makes people want to know what we are thinking.

And empathy is it.

People crave to be listened to just as we seek to be heard. So why not go first? Set the pace. Find out where it hurts. Get interested in what people are worried about. Find out who you are talking to and what is on their minds. Figure out what they want. Pick up what mood they are in and what they have an appetite for. And if you already know that the people hold contrary beliefs, hear them out.

When we have really paid attention to what others feel strongly about we have prepared the ground to be heard. And when we have said our piece it's once again an opportunity to listen out for how it has landed.

Listening properly (paying attention to feelings behind the words as well as to the words themselves) must be the coupling between the views expressed in a dialogue.

But well listening to the opposing view takes bravery because there is always the chance that they might not stop talking or pushing. And worse, there is always the chance that they might be right and that might feel rather bad for us.

But without listening we can only hope to get our views across by raising our voice higher or by tuning our arguments ever more cleverly.

And let's face it, there's always going to be someone prepared to go too far in the race to be 'right'.

View all blog posts