It saddens me that so many people with valuable and useful things to say don’t get heard. And yet their colleagues speak up and speak out with no problem at all – sometimes eloquently and succinctly, at other times…. well, you know the rest!
Here are 5 possible reasons your voice is not being heard – and what to do about it:
1. Problem: You’re not speaking in meetings! So many talented people tell me they don’t want to speak up ‘for fear of looking stupid’ or something similar. Solution: Find a way to say something – just one thing to start with. How about: ‘This is new ground for me, so I’d like to understand this a bit more’; or ‘I’ll be able to give a more well-thought-out response when I’ve done xyz’ or ‘I’d love to know a bit more about that’ and so on. Once you’ve opened your mouth once, it’s easier to do it another time.
2. Problem: You’re waffling on – many of us waffle when we are nervous – but it’s hard for others to listen so they switch off and our valuable input is lost. Being concise and succinct is something we can all learn. Solution: Practise breathing in and out slowly. I find it helps to say one sentence and then pause, take a sip of water and then continue. Rinse and repeat.
3. Problem: Other people are not ‘letting you in’. Solution: Interrupt with elegance: ‘I’d like to come in here’ or ‘there’s something really important to add here’.
4. Body language. Problem: Shrinking in your seat shows that you think you are not important and people will treat you accordingly (remember, we teach people how to treat us). Solution: Stand or sit tall, project your voice to the back of the room or virtual room and make your point succinctly. Practise this before any important meeting or conversation.
5. Problem: You’re running a no-longer-useful script or story in your head that you need to change – your inner critic, impostor, inner saboteur or chimp is dominating that head space of yours. Solution: Recognise it and learn how to tame it.
In my Lead with Confidence 90-day programme, you’ll tame your inner critic, you’ll have conversations that influence and connect (saves hours of wasted time), you’ll stop the ‘busy stuff’ and you’ll take fast action when it matters most.