This new article will show you everything you need to know about how to be heard when you talk.
It can often be a challenging task to feel like your opinions and thoughts are being acknowledged, whether it’s in a professional meeting, a personal conversation with your partner, or just in your everyday life. This issue is particularly relevant for women, who may encounter the added burden of being perceived as “bossy” or “overbearing” when they assert themselves. Although there’s no guaranteed solution to ensure that others will hear you out, there are strategies you can use to increase the likelihood of being heard.
How To Be Heard When You Talk:
1. Consider visualizing your desired outcome.
Prior to engaging in a conversation with someone, it can be beneficial to define what “being heard” means to you and what it would entail. By doing so, you’ll be able to recognize when you’ve reached your goal.
For instance, if you wish to increase your visibility at work, what does that entail for you? Does it mean expressing more of your thoughts and suggestions? Requesting something that you’ve previously been hesitant to ask for? Or perhaps something else entirely?
Breaking down a lofty objective like “being heard” into smaller, more attainable targets can also assist you in achieving success.
2. Develop assertive communication skills.
Some people avoid being assertive due to concerns about appearing arrogant. However, assertive communication entails expressing your thoughts and needs while also respecting those of others. It’s about being cooperative, not conceited, and being frank without being insulting. You can practice the following assertiveness techniques to improve your communication with others:
Use “I” statements to communicate your feelings and thoughts directly without sounding accusatory. For instance, if your partner frequently forgets your date nights, you could express your feelings by stating, “I feel hurt when you forget our date nights because I don’t feel prioritized by you.” You could then invite them to respond by asking, “Can we discuss this?” or “What happened?”
Say “no” when necessary. It can be difficult for some people to refuse requests, but it’s crucial to realize that agreeing to things you don’t genuinely want to do isn’t a sign of politeness. Consider taking some time before making a decision and remind the other person of other obligations or commitments. For example, you might say, “I’m typically happy to assist you, but I’ve had a challenging week and require some time to recharge on my own.” Remember that you have a responsibility to yourself as well.
Be as precise as possible. Sometimes, you may not feel heard because your message wasn’t communicated clearly enough for others to understand. If you want your children to come home for the holidays, instead of an indirect approach such as “Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all spend Christmas together?”, try something like “It’s very important to me that we all be together for Christmas. I’d like you to make an effort to come.” This way, you’re communicating your needs clearly and sincerely without being forceful or overbearing. While you can’t control how others respond to your message, you can do your part by being clear.
Apologize, if necessary, but avoid excessive apologizing. Take responsibility when you make mistakes and plan to do better in the future. However, too many apologies may make you appear insecure. Keep your apologies sincere, direct, and to the point.
3. Prepare in advance by practicing assertive communication techniques.
This is especially helpful if you’re new to assertiveness and find it daunting. You can practice alone or with a friend, and it doesn’t require memorizing a script. The goal is to feel more confident about how you will say things and how to respond to possible challenges.
Confidence is key to being heard, especially in professional settings. You can practice in front of a mirror and make eye contact to project confidence.
If you have self-doubts, give yourself a pep talk or take steps to address them, such as using face wash or wearing flattering clothes. It’s also useful to record yourself and analyze your delivery, as how you say things can be just as important as what you say.
4. Your body language can communicate a lot about your confidence and assertiveness.
When you present yourself confidently, others are more likely to perceive you that way and take your contributions seriously. Conversely, if your body language is hesitant or uncertain, others may not be as interested in what you have to say.
To project confidence, it’s important to claim your physical space by sitting or standing with both feet firmly on the ground and keeping your body open. Avoid crossing your arms or legs, holding a bag in front of you, or keeping your hands in your pockets.
Plant yourself where you are and avoid shifting your weight or swaying. Making eye contact is also crucial to effective communication. Aim to maintain eye contact for 50% of the time while you speak and 70% of the time while you listen, holding it for 4-5 seconds at a time.
5. Pay attention to how you communicate.
Your linguistic style, which includes factors such as tone, speed, volume, and word choice, can affect whether people listen to you or not. Speaking too fast or too slowly can also have a negative impact on how others perceive you. It’s important to find a steady pace that is comfortable for you and easy for others to understand.
Cultural and social differences can also influence communication. For instance, people from different regions may have different speaking styles and pace, which could lead to misunderstandings. Additionally, men and women tend to focus on different linguistic rituals. Men may focus on directness and status, while women may focus on rapport and relationship-building.
To improve your communication skills, observe and learn from great speakers like Martin Luther King Jr., Garrison Keillor, and Barack Obama. These speakers have distinct linguistic styles but are highly effective in conveying their messages. You can also watch speeches or performances on YouTube to develop your own communication skills.
6. Explore alternative ways to express yourself if you’re not comfortable with face-to-face communication, even after practicing.
In today’s digital age, there are many ways to share your thoughts and opinions. You can start a blog, share your writing on social media, write letters to your local newspaper’s editor, or even keep a private journal. The crucial point is to express your ideas and feelings.
7. Develop active listening skills to improve communication.
Active listening is essential to ensuring that you are understood by others. In turn, when people feel listened to, they are more likely to listen to you. Here are some techniques you can use to improve your active listening:
Eliminate distractions. Focus your attention on the person speaking to you by putting away your phone or other electronic devices and avoid looking around the room.
Seek clarification. Ask for clarification if you’re unsure about what someone said. For instance, you can say “I think you meant that _. Is that right?” This helps avoid misunderstandings and ensures that you understand the other person’s message.
Summarize. Summarizing the key points of a conversation helps ensure that everyone is on the same page. At the end of a meeting or conversation, try summarizing the key takeaways and ask if anyone else has anything to add.
Use encouragers. Nodding, saying “uh-huh,” and asking open-ended questions are examples of encouragers that show you are engaged in the conversation.
Avoid prepping your response. Rather than thinking about what you want to say next, focus on understanding what the other person is saying. This helps you respond thoughtfully and avoid misunderstandings.
8. It’s crucial to tailor your communication style to your audience if you want to be heard, especially in a professional setting.
When you’re trying to get your message across, take some time to consider who you’ll be speaking to.
Think about how they communicate. Do they tend to speak quickly and jump from one idea to the next? Or do they speak more deliberately, taking time to consider each point?
Adjust your own pace of speaking to match their listening pace. If you speak too quickly to someone who prefers a slower pace, they might shut down and tune you out, even if your ideas are valuable. Matching your communication style to your audience (1) can make a big difference in how well your message is received.
9. Knowing your colleagues is crucial to effectively communicating with them.
It is important to adjust your communication style to their level and interests in order to be heard. This involves finding out what topics they care about and what they value. You can read their blogs or articles to gain insight into their ideas.
Observing how they speak in meetings and office interactions can also help you understand how to get your voice heard. Cultural differences may also play a role in communication styles, so it’s important to be aware of them.
For instance, workplace culture in China may differ significantly from that of Canada. Understanding what works and what doesn’t in your particular workplace and with your colleagues can help you be heard more effectively.
10. Using language that undermines the value of your ideas can harm your communication, even if it’s unintentional.
Apologetic or self-deprecating language can make you appear unsure or unconfident, which can make others doubt the worth of your ideas. For instance, if you say something like, “I’m sorry to bother you, but do you have just two minutes to listen to this idea I have?” when someone passes you in the hall, they might not take your idea seriously.
Confidence is essential to convince others, especially in the workplace, that your ideas are worth listening to.
To communicate your ideas confidently, use assertive communication techniques discussed elsewhere in this article. Being assertive doesn’t mean being pushy or arrogant. You can still acknowledge others’ contributions and show that you respect their time without diminishing your ideas.
For instance, you can say something like, “Hey, I have what I think is a good idea for that project. Do you have two minutes to spare?” This acknowledges that the other person’s time is valuable without sounding apologetic or unsure about your idea.
11. Stay well-informed so that you don’t come across as uninformed or clueless during a meeting or work discussion.
Before attending a meeting or discussion, make sure to familiarize yourself with the topics that will be covered. Being prepared with some topics and opinions beforehand can help you express your ideas confidently and effectively, even if you tend to be more reserved. This way, you can contribute meaningfully to the discussion and be heard.
12. When communicating your ideas or describing a work situation, it’s important to choose a means of expression that suits your strengths while considering your audience.
For instance, if you excel at making presentations using PowerPoint, use it as your medium of communication. Keep in mind that people have different ways of learning and absorbing information, such as visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learning styles.
It may be helpful to test which type of learners your colleagues or meeting attendees are. Additionally, using a variety of presentation styles can help ensure that everyone is engaged and following along.
13. Being the first to speak up in a discussion can give you an advantage in being heard.
When you have ideas, try to contribute early to avoid getting lost in the conversation. However, it’s important to be mindful and not jump in if no one has asked for input yet.
Finding the right timing can take some practice as different groups may have different norms around pauses in conversations. Take note of the group dynamics and experiment with different lengths of pauses before contributing.
14. Asking questions can be a valuable tool to help you communicate your ideas effectively.
Sometimes, people get so caught up in presenting their own ideas that they forget to ask questions, which can be just as important in understanding the problem at hand. By asking questions, you can gain clarity, identify problem areas, and encourage others to think about the issue in a different way.
For instance, if your team is discussing how to increase productivity at work, you might ask questions like: What are the specific areas where we are struggling to be efficient? What are the goals we want to achieve with increased productivity? What strategies have worked in the past, and what hasn’t worked?
It’s a good idea to prepare some questions ahead of time, even if you don’t end up using them. This can help you organize your thoughts and ensure that you’re asking relevant questions that will move the discussion forward.
15. Capture your audience’s attention and maintain their interest throughout your presentation.
It’s important to use clear and concise methods to convey your ideas. Otherwise, your audience may lose interest or miss the point entirely. Using techniques such as compelling imagery, illustrative anecdotes, and references to past events can help keep people engaged.
Even if you’re speaking to a large group, maintaining eye contact throughout your presentation can make it feel more personal and keep your audience focused on what you have to say.
16. Not expect others to ask for your opinion, especially in work situations.
People may be too focused on presenting their own ideas and may assume that if you had something to say, you would speak up. To be heard, you have to make a conscious effort to speak up and share your ideas.
It may take some time to get comfortable with speaking up, but with practice, you can improve. It’s important to note that this can be particularly challenging for women, who are often socialized to prioritize others’ needs over their own and may feel hesitant to assert themselves.
17. To ensure effective communication, it’s essential to choose the appropriate time and place.
This is particularly important when addressing sensitive or difficult subjects. Avoid discussing such matters in public settings or in the presence of others who may be affected.
For example, a family gathering is not the right time to have an argument with your partner. Also, it’s crucial to select a time when both parties are calm and composed, as trying to communicate when emotions are running high can lead to misunderstandings and make it harder for the other person to listen to you.
18. Have a general idea of what you want to communicate before starting a conversation.
This doesn’t necessarily mean writing down an exact script, but rather having a clear understanding of the main points you want to address. This is particularly helpful for those who may feel nervous or less confident speaking off the cuff.
Additionally, having a loose outline of what you want to say can help keep you on track during the conversation and ensure you cover all the important points. You can prepare by asking yourself relevant questions such as, “What solution would I like to propose?” or “Are there any other approaches I could consider?”
19. Determine if the other person is willing to listen to you.
Even if you have picked the right time and place, if the person is not receptive, what you say won’t matter. You can observe their body language, which can reveal a lot about their mindset.
If they are avoiding eye contact, turning away from you, or crossing their arms, they might be feeling defensive or unwilling to listen. In case they are being aggressive or angry, it may be challenging to get their attention. In such situations, it’s best to disengage from the conversation as much as possible.
20. To ensure that you effectively communicate with someone, it’s important to be mindful of your own body language.
You want to avoid conveying the message that you’re shutting down the conversation, and instead, communicate that you are open and receptive. If possible, sit next to the person you’re speaking with while maintaining a comfortable distance.
Keep your tone of voice and body language neutral, avoiding crossing your arms or clenching your fists. By keeping your chest open and maintaining eye contact, you can better gauge the other person’s reaction and maintain a connection throughout the conversation.
21. Create a safe and open environment for discussion.
Avoid starting the conversation with an accusation, as it could immediately shut down the other person and prevent them from hearing you out. Instead, approach the conversation as a shared inquiry or request for assistance.
For example, you could start by saying “I have a problem and I’m wondering if you can help me with it,” and then explain your situation. Alternatively, you could say “I’m feeling confused, and I’d really appreciate it if you could help me understand” before going into the specifics of the issue at hand.
By setting the stage in this way, you can encourage the other person to be more open and receptive to what you have to say.
22. Express vulnerability instead of anger as anger often masks deeper feelings of fear or pain.
Expressing anger can shut down communication instead of opening it up. Expressing vulnerability can be challenging, but it’s more likely to be heard. This means you need to share your feelings in a thoughtful way, using “I” statements to explain why you feel hurt or upset.
23. Remember that communication is a two-way street, and being open to listening is just as important as being heard.
If you want someone to listen to you, you need to be willing to listen to them as well. This means being open to hearing things that may challenge your own beliefs or ideas about the situation. Active listening is key, so try to stay present and engaged in the conversation.
This includes making eye contact, avoiding distractions, and asking questions or summarizing what the other person has said to ensure that you’ve understood their perspective correctly. Remember, the goal is to have a productive conversation and find a solution that works for both parties.
24. Developing your sense of humor can be beneficial when dealing with difficult conversations.
Engaging in serious discussions can be emotionally taxing, and approaching them with humor can help ease the tension and create a more open and relaxed atmosphere. When you inject humor into the conversation, it can help the other person feel more at ease and receptive to what you have to say.
In contrast, if you approach the conversation with high emotions, it may make the other person feel attacked or defensive. So, try to approach the conversation with a lighthearted attitude and inject some humor when appropriate.
25. Acknowledge that there are situations where the other person may not be receptive to listening.
Even if you follow all the right steps such as creating a conducive environment, communicating effectively, and managing your emotions, there may still be times where the other person is not ready or willing to hear you out. It’s important to recognize that sometimes people have their own issues that prevent them from being open to communication.
In cases where someone consistently refuses to listen to you, you may need to evaluate whether continuing the relationship is worth it. It’s crucial to prioritize your own emotional well-being (2) and not continue in a situation where your thoughts and feelings are not being respected.
26. Consider whether or not what you have to say is necessary to say.
You don’t want to be constantly talking and overwhelming the other person. Quality over quantity is key. Sometimes, the other person just needs someone to listen to them.
It’s equally important to be a good listener and provide support to others. Make sure to only speak up when you have something valuable to contribute, that way others will be more willing to listen to you.
27. Know when it’s appropriate to speak.
It’s not necessary to talk all the time or to everyone. Different situations call for different levels of receptiveness to conversation, so it’s important to be mindful of when and where to speak up if you want to be heard.
For instance, someone who’s trying to get some sleep during a long overnight flight may not be the best audience for a deep conversation, while someone standing in line with you at a concert might be more open to chatting. Similarly, someone who’s wearing headphones and lost in thought on the bus might not be interested in hearing about your latest business venture.
It’s also important to recognize when the other person may be getting overwhelmed or losing interest in the conversation. If you’ve been talking for an extended period of time without a pause, it might be time to wrap up and give the other person a chance to respond.
28. Communicate your needs clearly when you just need to vent.
Some people may jump into offering solutions or advice when all you really want is for someone to listen and offer emotional support. By letting people know up front that you just need to vent, they can be more receptive to listening and providing the support you need.
It’s also a good idea to ask your friends what they need when they come to you with a problem. Do they want your help solving the issue or just someone to listen and empathize? This way, you can offer the appropriate support and avoid misunderstandings.
To be heard when you talk, it is important to consider several factors.
First, express vulnerability instead of anger and use “I” statements to explain how you feel. Second, be open to listening to the other person’s side and practice active listening. Third, cultivate a sense of humor to approach difficult conversations with ease. Fourth, know when not to talk and choose the appropriate time and place to start a conversation. Fifth, let people know when you only want to vent and don’t need solutions.
And finally, accept that sometimes the other person is not open to listening, and it is necessary to reconsider having a relationship with them. By following these guidelines, you can increase the chances of being heard and having a successful conversation.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article about how to be heard when you talk. I sincerely hope its contents have been a good help to you.