My Blog

When we start taking responsibility for getting heard…


... we might have a better chance of being heard.


You may not like this question, but have you ever asked yourself whether you may be doing or not doing things that causes people not to hear you?


I'm sure many of us feel like we are not heard at times. Some more often than others (see Have you felt invisible or misunderstood?). For women, especially quieter women, it's a common experience.


There are definitely issues around being interrupted, spoken over, being ignored and people only listening to respond. And it is very difficult when we are in the minority, whether due to gender, cultural background, age, personality or having an unpopular opinion. There are good reasons why words like ‘mansplaining’ and ‘manterruption’ have come into our vocabulary. And plenty of leaders still could do with better listening (see We all want leaders who listen. So why don't we have more quieter leaders? and Listen - it's your secret leadership advantage)


The problem is, if we only blamed others for not hearing us, nothing will change.


Here are 3 things to check and do to make sure you’re taking responsibility for your part if you feel like you are not heard:


Have you spoken in a way that’s more likely to be heard?


Sometimes it is in our delivery that stops people from listening. Most of us don’t like being told what to do or that we’re wrong. Choose your intention, words, tone, energy and body language with care.


Prepare people to listen in your opening, depending on the audience. Sometimes “powerless communication” (See Prof Adam Grant’s talk on The Power of Powerless Communication) helps to prevent walls going up. Other times a clear request to listen before commenting is useful. Or a powerful opening question can engage people rather than a statement.


Put yourself in the listeners’ shoes. Think about what matters to them so you can link what you want to say with what matters to them. Most people listen to things that are important to them, not necessarily to things that are important to you.


Have you given feedback effectively?


Often the people who don’t hear you are not even aware of their lack of listening and the impact it has on you. I remember a time when I nervously gave feedback to a senior executive that he had interrupted me in a meeting and he was shocked to hear it as he was simply unaware. He apologised and told me he would be more conscious of allowing others to finish.


“Oh, but I can’t give my boss feedback!” “That would be a career limiting move” “They won’t listen to the feedback” are some of the comments I hear. However, how can you blame them if they’re not aware? If you haven’t skilfully given feedback to the people who don’t hear you, you’re contributing to the continuing problem.


Is your voice strong enough?


An issue I have had to work on is to work on my voice so it is strong enough to be heard. It’s actually not just volume. My colleague and voice coach, @Richard Lawton, reminded me that “You have to take responsibility to be heard.” I know sometimes I had blamed others for not hearing me when I wasn’t speaking strongly and clearly enough.


One of the challenges with your voice strength is that our inner voice gets in the way. The inner voice may say “I’m not adding anything” “They won’t like what I have to say” “What would they think if I said that” “I can’t say that” “They won’t listen” etc. As a result, you may not speak up or even if you did, the strength and intention won’t cut through.


Often, people in the minority are the ones who catalyse change because many in the mainstream are unaware or have limited interest in the change. In other words, minority voices are the source of organisational innovation, improvement and evolution. However, being heard as someone in the minority requires strength, courage and grit.


Do you have what it takes to be heard when you are in the minority? Do you facilitate and support people in a minority position when you are in the mainstream or in a role that allows you to do so?


Quietly Powerful Women is running a weekend workshop on Voices with Impact on 23rd July in Melbourne. You will learn to amplify your authentic voice so you will be heard when it matters. Here is the FLYER and REGISTRATION LINK.


The QPW Global Virtual Group Coaching Program will start in August 2017. You will learn practical skills and strategies to get your talents recognised and leverage your natural qualities to have greater impact. Watch the VIDEO on the path to becoming quietly powerful, see the FLYER and register HERE.


Quietly Powerful Women (QPW) movement aims to help quieter women to succeed authentically, with the bigger aim of helping us to redefine what good leadership looks like. The Founder of QPW, Megumi Miki is an author of “Start inspiring, stop driving: Unlock your team's potential to outperform and grow” and expands leaders’ mindsets and skill-sets to inspire diverse talent to flourish. 


Related articles:

Why we tell ourselves "I can't" rather than "I can"

Are you a leader that gets the best from a mix of different people?

Confidence is NOT the answer

White paper: Quietly Powerful – get your talents recognised and succeed on your own terms as a quieter professional woman

My Blog

  • Bust these myths and pick the right talent for the job
  • Is your inner calm muscle getting enough exercise?
  • Calm in the chaos