We all want to be heard. Yet, no matter how hard we try we still struggle far too much to make ourselves heard in a noisy world.
Why is it so difficulty to be heard?
There is not ONE simple answer to that, but there are however simple reasons why we sink into oblivion as soon as we utter a single word – or write one. Here is a brief selection of some important ‘Don’ts’ if you want to be heard.
3 Reasons Why No One Hears Us
Here are 3 mistakes most of us make that silences our voice immediately.
- We try to speak to everyone, so we end up speaking to no one
- We don’t REALLY know what we want to say, so we sound vague and repetitive. That’s an immediate turn-off
- We confuse authenticity with writing/speaking without reflecting, so we bore the audience with our longwinded rant and irrelevant content.
I could go on, but you get the basic trend! To overcome the problem of not being heard, we have to be ready to make an important shift.
Most of the problems we encounter when we communicate arise because we are over-focused on ourselves, particularly on our performance and image – how we stand, how we move our body, whether we come across as confident, whether we make enough eye contact, etc. We spend far too much time assessing ourselves from an external perspective that we are neither present in ourselves nor are we conscious of how the audience is engaging with us.
The shift comes when we stop over-focusing on ourselves. Instead, we need to focus on our audience. If we want to be heard, we need to focus on making it easier for our audience to hear us.
Make it Easier for the Audience to Hear Us
How do we make it easier for the audience to hear us?
We have to be willing to change the way we communicate – and not just reach for another glitzy gimmick. We have to see successful communication as a dialogue with the audience in which both sides are engaged in an active exchange.
Here are 3 very simple steps that will make that shift a whole lot easier and more effective!
- Be brief! The less you say, the more your audience can hear. Always be ready to condense and shorten what you think you need to say
- Simplify what you say! Once you’ve shortened it, distil your ideas into a clear, simple message. If you struggle to simplify what you say, you don’t really understand it.
- Personalise it! Communicate in your own unique voice – it makes is much easier to listen to and remember what you say
Instead of sinking into oblivion, you want to be heard. To make that shift happen you have to begin and the best time to begin is now.Learn More
How to talk about your business so that people want to listen to you? Too few business owners ask themselves that simple question. It’s a pity. Because the answer could radically change how you run your business.
My conversation with Jerry began with his question: “How do I get people to listen to me without trying to own the whole room?” He’d just returned to the networking scene after a two-year pause due to Covid.
How to talk about your business is a problem for most, but particularly for quiet, private professionals and small business owners like Jerry, who are genuinely interested in having a conversation with a few people at these events, instead of ‘playing the room’. And his dilemma is just as applicable to the online world.
The Alternative way to Communicate
What Jerry wanted to know was this: could I offer him an alternative way to communicate beyond the standard solution – shout louder and longer as a way of being heard (which doesn’t work anyway)? He wanted to learn this essential business skill: how to talk about your business so that you easily reach the right audience.
Yes, I could. But it’s not a simple, one-step solution.
To get People to Listen to You, You Have to First Listen to Them
Basically, to get people to listen to what you say, YOU have to first become a better LISTENER yourself. Remember the basic principle of successful communication. People are more willing to listen to you when they feel heard by you.
Becoming a better listener is about becoming an ACTIVE listener, not, as is often suggested in the abundance of cheat-sheets on the topic, someone who simply nods, interjects with a “mm-hmm” and summarises what the speaker has just said. When we ‘perform’ the act of listening, we are focused on ourselves and our own responses, not on what the other is communicating. Active listening demands our undivided attention on what the other is saying.
The Art of Active Listening
Active listening is about engaging, interacting with the other. It’s a two-way exchange – it’s a dialogue.
Dialogue is about listening deeply to what the other is saying with interest and curiosity, reflecting on it with openness and non-judgement and only then responding. We can respond with relevant questions which let the others know that we didn’t just hear their words. Our questions tells them we want to understand them better, know more about them, go deeper.
The opposite to dialogue is a one-way broadcast, or monologue, usually a series of monologues in the fashion of a game of tennis, with each side trying to score a point, i.e. win the argument as in the art of debating.
So how do we practise dialogue in our daily business interactions?
Here are ‘few’ dos and don’ts to help you recognise the difference between dialogue and monologue – and, of course, choose the better option. They don’t just apply to quiet, conscientious people, like Jerry, nor to your business communication. They are relevant for how you communicate in every aspect of life.
- start talking about yourself. Start by discovering who the other is.
- use buzz-words and jargon. They are empty fillers and they kill dialogue (how ‘super’ and ‘awesome’ is everyday life?)
- put forward you opinions and beliefs as ‘The Truth’. It puts the other on the defensive immediately
- try to impress or convince with arguments. They are counter-productive – and they also kill dialogue.
- speak in simple, clear, direct language
- go for being your imperfect, real self, not some ‘best version’.
- choose honesty instead of influence. It’s one of foundation stones to building mutual trust
- strive to understand what drives the other – especially if it challenges you
How we Communicate is How we Live
Dialogue is a way of communicating and how we communicate is how we live and how we relate to the world around us. In our increasingly polarised world, isn’t it time we all learned and practised the art of dialogue with each other?Learn More