Tips on How to Be Heard
Do you ever feel like people aren't listening to you? You've said something or sent a message several times, but they just. Don't. Hear you.
Here's the thing about our messages not getting through to the intended recipient...it's not their fault. It's ours. I know that's not what you wanted to, well, hear. But the truth is that communication isn't about us, or what's convenient for us--it's about the person with whom we're trying to communicate. It's about adjusting our style and message to meet their communication and information processing needs. Yep, this means that the impetus is on us; we as the communicator will bear the brunt of the labor, and our listener doesn't have to do a whole lot. Sound fair? Probably not. So the question stands, if we may be so blunt, do you want to get your message through, or not?
Techniques to Help You Be Heard
Since it's up to us to make sure our message gets through, here are some things you can try to make it happen. Disclaimer--not all of these are fun, or in-line with our natural tendencies. They might sound uncomfortable, but speaking up and communicating in ways that go against our grain or preferences is often the only way to make ourselves heard by the people who need to hear us. At the very core of communication is this rule of thumb: If they aren't listening, you're doing it wrong.
1. Be the Squeaky Wheel
Sometimes it's quantity over quality. If you're not getting the answers, decisions, or information you need, and you truly can't get it anywhere else, speak up and speak up often. Keep asking, even when you feel like you're being a nuisance.
It can take up to seven times for a message to sink in -- and that's when we repeat it seven different ways.
Be persistent, and be creative in how and how many times you say or ask something. Sometimes putting the project or business first means we have to annoy people. And once people know you mean business, and you'll just keep asking, they're usually a little quicker on the draw to get you what you need after they've found out how...persevering you can be.
Be honest--did you cringe when you read that? Sometimes, when you have the floor, you have to keep it if you really want to make your point or get your answer. Remember how we said sometimes getting your message through could be uncomfortable? This is exactly what we're talking about.
Need the team to acknowledge a risk and commit to a response plan?
Need your leader to allocate more resources or tell you what work currently on your plate can wait?
Need to make a case to switch vendors for one of your products or services?
Take advantage of team meetings and one-on-ones when you can. Remind people that you can move on once you get what you need and they confirm that they hear you.
3. Find an Ally
A message is always more effective when it comes from multiple sources. People are more likely to take your message seriously and do something about it if they hear the same message from multiple people and see it in multiple places.
Think about how many times you've been prompted to vote, or register early, or find your polling location? We bet you've seen it on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, the news, the paper--literally everywhere--not to mention the political ads themselves.
So team up with someone who needs what you need, and who has additional reach or influence across your team or organization--what do you need them to help you say, and what tools or support can you give them? If people don't hear you when you speak into the megaphone, try handing it over to someone else.
We know. None of these techniques sound like they're "up your alley." But isn't you being uncomfortable better than something blowing up on your project or in your business down the road? Maybe you don't feel the pain of inaction immediately, but you'll feel it eventually, and chances are it will be much worse than the guts and effort you'll have to muster to speak up--and the sooner, the better.