By: Maurice Gilbert
Huh? Oh, sorry. I wasn’t listening.
Kidding! But yes, that happens to all of us sometimes — maybe to you more often than it should.
We know you’ve already carefully constructed your thoughts in your head before uttering them (You have, right?), so do the following to make sure the words come out of your mouth effectively.
This is a technique for capturing listeners’ attention before making your point. It’s particularly helpful if you tend to hesitate before breaking into a conversation. Signal your intention to speak by leading with, “I’d like to ask a question…” Or, “Before we go any further, let’s discuss….” Or, “This is a great time to consider the fact that….”
It may sound counter-intuitive, but drawing other people into a conversation can be a great way to establish your own authority and, consequently, increase the chances you’ll be heard. Turn to others in the conversation and query, “John, what do you think is the best way to handle this?” Or “Anyone got an idea about how we should proceed?”
Indicating what’s going on with you emotionally can be a compelling way to draw attention to your point of view. When you do this (sparingly), you can create a climate of openness and trust and can sometimes “unblock” a discussion that has been bogged down. Try, “Part of me agrees with you, but there’s another part that hesitates because…” Or, “This conversation is feeling adversarial, and I want to take it in another direction…”
If you’re the one posing a course of action (rather than only reacting to others), you’re more likely to be listened to. Shape your idea in the form of a question in order to invite discussion and block resistance. “Could we solve the problem with more research?” Or, “Do we need to revise our procedures as a way to prevent this problem?”
When you make statements showing sincere support for others’ ideas, you build alliances and invite a similar show of support for yourself. Try, “I think you’re on the right track.” And, “I totally agree with you.”
When you seize on another speaker’s ideas and add to it, it creates a team-like tone and can help your own ideas get heard. Re-state someone else’s thought, but add your own development to it. “That’s a good idea, and then we could add X to it and take it company-wide…”
This technique positions you as the one who provides structure and clarity to a discussion. Do so with statement such as, “Okay we’ve talked about this problem and we’ve arrived at a possible solution. Since we’re in agreement about next steps, let’s take action now.”
A final thought: remember that using these tips isn’t a ploy for personal power. Rather, you’re increasing the chances not only that you will be heard, but that better communication will take place on your team. And that’s definitely a win-win.
Maurice Gilbert is Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Search, which specializes in placing Compliance Officers and Legal Counsel for clients in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. Maurice is also CEO of Corporate Compliance Insights, a worldwide publication devoted to governance, risk and compliance issues. Maurice can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.