How to be heard at work – NOW!

Are you heard at work? – Ever felt like your voice has got lost amidst the throng of other opinions and given up? This post helps you think about how you can speak up and be heard at work!

Many professional and otherwise confident business people regularly tell us at Coachouse that they feel they often need to present ideas in a jokey way or apologise for their comments before they make them-in case their ideas are icorrect.

Often they will be in a meeting, wait patiently for their chance to introduce their opinion and then either not say it at all – feeling it is not worthy, or say something like “This is probably a rubbish idea but……” or “I don’t know what you might feel about x it’s probably not the right thing….. ” or ” Someone suggested to me that we could…..”

It’s such a shame that we don’t always have the confidence to articulate our thoughts at the right time and recent research from Rada in Business found that women struggled most in board meetings, one-to-ones with their Manager or meetings with Senior Managers. They discovered that women are 68% more likely than men to say they ‘never feel comfortable when expressing themselves in a work environment’.

Often women report that they feel uncomfortable in a predominantly male environment. Marina Gask of The Telegraph quotes Lucy Hodgson, 41, a Director of a Recruitment Company whose clients are predominantly male partners in accountancy firms, who says ” I’d find the men talking among themselves about golf or football. I found myself worrying that they wouldn’t care what I had to say. In spite of my track record, I’d blush and struggle to speak”

Read more of her article here The smart woman’s guide to being heard at work

Sometimes incidents where we have spoken up and our opinions have been belittled serve to prevent us from speaking up again and we need to put this behind us in order to feel that we really do have something worthwhile to contribute.

Antoinette Dale Henderson, author of Leading with Gravitas says many of her female clients find that incidents in life where they were belittled publicly are at the root of their work behaviour. “Through these experiences we receive a powerful message at the deepest subconscious level that it’s unsafe to put your head above the parapet. So when we are asked to share our opinion in a meeting it affects our behaviour”. “Instead of speaking clearly some women either find themselves cracking a joke, over-dramatising their point or shutting down altogether”

Some female managers report that they feel less confident speaking in front of a group of other female managers and some feel that they don’t have equal qualifications to others and so their opinions are not as worthy.

So, how to be heard – The answer lies in being assertive. Try some of these

  • A strong, confident stance or pose – no shoulders slumped!
  • Make eye contact
  • Breathe deeply
  • Practice your opening statements – how do they sound?
  • Have a clear objective before the meeting – what do you want to get from it?
  • What is your purpose in the meeting?
  • What role will you play?
  • What is your attitude toward the meeting/the people/ the aims?
  • What is it you want to hear at the meeting?
  • And what do you want to say or want them to know?
  • Make your point clearly, with pauses that are long enough for people to get the message but not long enough to butt in
  • Keep it brief and to the point
  • Don’t worry about what people think of you and what you have to say