We all have an innate need to be seen and heard, as we have a need for recognition and respect. Unless this need is fulfilled it is often difficult for us to focus on other aspects of our lives.
When we are not heard we sense that what we have to say is of little or no interest to others. More often than not it is a female whose voice is not being heard in an office or a boardroom situation. She wonders whether it is because of her voice not being loud enough, not sharp or not aggressive enough.
Last week a group of professional women met to discuss and share ideas on the topic of How to Get Your Voice Be Heard and Matter during the first Women’s Circle Event organised in Perth.
What the participants agreed was that our voice doesn't get the attention it deserves, because others are often so preoccupied with getting their points across, having agenda items covered and concerned with planning their next move in a conversation, that they simply don’t listen.
And the less punishment there is associated with not listening and the smaller the risk of not paying attention, the more likely it is that it will be your voice not heard.
What can be done to receive the respecT and Be heard?
1. Identify your Range of Acceptable Behaviour
Adam Galinsky presented the range of acceptable behaviour, within which we all operate and argued that if we are too strong or too weak in our communication with others, we fall outside of that range and our ability to influence them, to achieve what we desire, is slim. We achieve what we desire when we act within the frame of acceptable behaviour.
The range is fluid and changes depending on the person, the situation and even the mood.
2. Appreciate Your Power of Influencing Others
We all have the power to influence others to give us voice. We also have the power within ourselves to find motivation and courage to speak up.
Some people feel reluctant having to influence others in order to have their voice heard. They expect that it is their right and it should be naturally given to them.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that way. The reason why it doesn’t is because we all have a need to be seen and heard and those individuals who don’t listen are simply preoccupied with fulfilling their own need to be seen and heard and often desperate to get their own point across. They may feel frustrated in other circles or areas of their life, and feel the need to be heard, sometimes even more than us.
There is a relatively low number of people who are self-actualised and don’t have a need to prove their self worth and are therefore literally free to listen. Others to a greater or lesser extent, have to be influenced to listen.
3. Influence Others to Be Heard
Despite the fact that in most cases it is the other person’s choice not to listen or take your words seriously, you can impact their reaction somewhat. You can do it by applying certain communication strategies to become more influential and for that more heard.
- Stand up for Others - people are more likely to listen if they don't associate the request with neediness or desperation but more an act of good will and contribution. It isn't often a conscious choice however one that naturally feels good to most human beings to help others, to contribute to the greater good. Otherwise, a request where the attention requested ought to be focused solely on your needs may be met with irritation.
- Appreciate their Expertise - the moment you ask for their viewpoint, mentorship or their advice, you shift their attention away from your problem and your need to be seen and heard and towards the opportunity they see for them to show up. By this simple flip you get them to be seen while having your worries and frustrations heard, too.
- Present yourself as an Expert - by demonstrating your passion you show up as the person who cares, who is deeply engaged in a cause and you inspire others to be more like that, too. When you demonstrate your expertise you come across as trustworthy, influential and inspiring and others are more likely and willing to listen and help.
- Present the Case from their Perspective - putting yourself in another person's shoes is very difficult, nearly impossible unless what they experience is what you had gone through yourself. You can however, get to know another person well enough to know what drives them, what influences their behaviour, what motivates them and then keep this in mind when presenting your points to them. When speaking up for whatever cause you believe in, demonstrate its relevance to the person you talk to and you are likely to achieve what you need or at least be heard.
4. Empower Yourself
You can empower yourself to speak up by developing an strong belief that your voice matters, that what you have to say is important and of value and for that reason you ought to speak up.
Self empowerment is tapping into the power that lies within each and every one of us, often hidden under layers of self-doubt, negative thinking and negative self talk, frustrations and sadness caused by misfortunate experiences.
By regular application of the below you can empower yourself:
- Work on Self Esteem, the overall feeling good about yourself
- Tap into your Inner Calm and Inner Peace
- Consciously choose to think positive and empowering thoughts
- Work on Self Confidence in areas where it is lacking
- Practice speaking up, presenting, sharing ideas with others