Be Heard

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You Are Trying To Make a Point in a Meeting, but you feel as if you’re on mute. Everyone looks distracted, and you know some of them are just waiting for their turn to speak. Before you’re even done speaking, Kevin from accounts interrupts you… again! Why doesn’t anyone ever listen to you?

If you have experienced the above scenario, you’re not alone. Many women report not being heard as the biggest obstacle they face in both social and professional situations. Not being able to make yourself heard puts you at a distinct disadvantage, especially in competitive office environments. You’ll get interrupted, dismissed, and your ideas will be ignored. When you feel unheard, it’s tempting to just exit the conversation albeit with a feeling of displeasure, annoyance or even anger. But that won’t make the problem go away, right? You owe yourself the responsibility to make people sit up and listen to you. You are at least 75 percent responsible for how others treat you in a conversation. Fuming silently in a meeting because you can’t get a word in edgewise is abdicating a responsibility to yourself.

How Can You Turn Things Around And Make Yourself Heard?

The following strategies will help you get the attention of others and finally be heard. Dismissed, and your ideas will be ignored. When you feel unheard, it’s tempting to just exit the conversation albeit with a feeling of displeasure, annoyance or even anger.

But That Won’t Make the Problem Go Away, Right?

You owe yourself the responsibility to make people sit up and listen to you. You are at least 75 percent responsible for how others treat you in a conversation. Fuming silently in a meeting because you can’t get a word in edgewise is abdicating a responsibility to yourself. How can you turn things around and make yourself heard?  The following strategies will help you get the attention of others and finally be heard.

Don’t Be A Rude Know It All

You know that what you are saying is important, but the people around you are avoiding making eye contact with you. Why? Well, you might be coming off as a know it all. This might be because you make it sound like it’s all about you. Before you start presenting your point, tailor it in a way that is pleasing to the other parties. Don’t make it sound like you are criticising those who hold a different opinion. Next time, consider agreeing with the other person before tactfully presenting your opinion. You can also preface with questions like “Do you want to know what I think?” or “I’m of a different opinion, would you like to hear it?”

Link to What Others Have Said

Don’t make the mistake of dismissing or disrespecting another person’s opinion. Conversation is all about reciprocity. If you show respect for what others have said and link your comments and ideas to it, they are more inclined to listen and even agree with you. Even conversation bullies are flattered when you connect your idea to theirs and you might be surprised when they reciprocate too.

Check Your Body Language

The importance of body language in communication can’t be overemphasized. Take a look in the mirror to analyse how others might perceive your body language when you are sitting or standing comfortably. Do you look like you want to be social? If you like crossing your arms, practice keeping them open. Lean towards the person you are talking to and make eye contact with them. You might also consider using the mirroring technique where you mirror the body positioning of the other person.

Change Your Delivery Style

Are people busy checking their phones while you are making a presentation? According to Tony Alessandra, PhD, author of Charisma: Seven Keys to Developing the Magnetism that Leads to Success, you might be boring your audience with your delivery style. Some people might respond to a storytelling style, while others would like you to just get to the point. Find out which style works for your audience. You can try matching the other person’s speed of speaking; most people listen more to someone who speaks at their speed. Also, present your ideas with conviction, using just the right tone and intonation. Avoid using disclaimers that women often use such as “I don’t mean to be difficult but” or “If I may just say”. Habitual use of disclaimers will make people overlook or devalue your opinion.

Insist On Being Heard

If you feel like others are riding roughshod over you in a conversation, you have a right to point it out. For example, you can say “I can’t get a word in here and I’ve been very patient” or “Let me interject for a moment.” When someone keeps interrupting you, tell them “Please let me talk first” or “I’d like a minute to complete my earlier thought.” This strategy might make others notice that they have been overbearing in the conversation and give you time to speak. Often, people are not even aware that they are monopolizing a conversation and that you are feeling left out.

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