As the models of leadership are changing in our culture, the ability to influence people through trust and collaboration is becoming a highly sought after skill. It is sought after by employers, and it is a skill that people are valuing more and more as they decide who they will work for in paid and volunteer capacities. This model allows for collaboration and the opportunity to work with people instead of just for people. However, with this culture shift, where everyone is seen as an equal, it is necessary to have the ability to get people to hear and listen to you, to take you seriously, to see your input as valid and valuable. This is great if you are the one who is easily heard. But what if you’re not? What if you’re not the silent person at the table just the invisible one? How do you get people to listen and take your ideas seriously without having to say: “No, for real! I’m serious!”?
Listen more than you talk. Everyone has been in that setting where there is one person in the group who monopolizes the whole conversation. (If that’s you and you’re reading this, it’s okay, just keep reading). This is the person who has an answer, objection, or enhancement for every comment. After a while, their voice becomes like Charlie Brown’s teacher . . . wah wah wah wah . . . because it’s been heard so much. Honestly, this is the area I struggle with the most with working on a team. I want to chime in. I want to be involved. Conversation to me is like a sparring session. Let’s go at it until we all sharpen our skills. But that “going at it” makes it difficult for other people to feel valued and for them to value what you’re saying. I needed an incredible amount of help with this “listening more than talking” thing so I instituted the 3:1 rule for myself. I try to let three comments pass before I add anything to the conversation. And some days I might push myself to go 5:1. This gives me the opportunity to show that I value my teammates’ opinions and experiences just as much as my own. Those are also moments to consider if what I’m getting ready to say is just truthful or is it both truthful and helpful.
Adding Worth to the Conversation
We can say things that are true. We can say things that are helpful. But adding worth to a conversation comes when we can say what is true and helpful! When we consistently say things that are true and not helpful, eventually, people begin to tune us out. These true but not helpful statements are things like resaying what someone else already said, statements that don’t move the conversation along, statements that devalue other people, or statements that are impossible or not applicable in your context. All these true but not helpful statements chip away at another person’s willingness to take the speaker seriously. After all, who wants to continue to listen to someone who doesn’t have anything to contribute? Taking time to ensure that what you’re saying is true and helpful makes your contributions more valuable. I put my statements through these true and helpful filters:
- Has what I’m about to say already been said?
- Is what I’m about to say something that can happen here and now?
- Is what I’m about to say a solution or another problem?
- If it’s a problem, do I have a solution for that problem?
- Am I about to say this in a way that can be heard by the people in the room or will it offend them and make them ignore my statement?
[bctt tweet=”We can say things that are true. We can say things that are helpful. But adding worth to a conversation comes when we can say what is true and helpful!” username=”orangeleaders”]
Using true and helpful filters gives the speaker time to process before contributing and makes contributions more valuable to the group.
No one likes to feel ignored. When we are ignored we feel overlooked. We can leave a meeting feeling like we’ve wasted our time. We can begin to feel bitter and resentful toward our teammates. But before we let those feelings run away with us, let’s make sure we listen more than we speak and when we finally speak we are saying things that are true and helpful.
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