Lots of clients come to me because they aren’t taken seriously enough at work. They report that they’re often interrupted in meetings. They frequently stay quiet when they have brilliant ideas to share.
Or their ideas are overlooked for someone else’s. They wanted to learn to talk so people listen.
Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant wrote a fantastic article called Speaking While Female. They reported anecdotal and scientific evidence that when males speak in the workplace, they’re regarded as more competent, and when women talk, they’re often disliked and/or considered aggressive.
They concluded that there’s a bias against women in the workplace.
Talk So People Listen
There may well be a bias against women in the workplace. I don’t disagree. But there are things that we can do to put an absolute end to interruptions & micromanagement.
It’s probable that things that we are doing are encouraging interruptions & micromanagement. Yes, I said it. I was scared to say it.
But I have 20 years of data to back it up. Read on.
Case Study 1. The Bi*@h
Part of my work involves going into corporations and helping entire teams to communicate more successfully with each other and with their clients.
In one particular firm, I worked with the president of marketing and her team. I worked
with each person individually, and each of the team members reported that their boss was the B word. Men & women. No kidding. They all thought she was condescending and a B#@*h.
Which she wasn’t. She was a kind person who wanted the best for her team & her firm.
The president, let’s call her Sandy, was also being interrupted by her boss. He wasn’t letting her finish a sentence. I solved both problems in no time flat. Sandy was hanging on to the end of each phrase that she spoke. She was actually trying to be “nice”. Lot’s of people do it.
Read this aloud: Hi Guuuuuuuuuysssss. How’s it going with your proooooojjeeeect?
Intentions may not come across as intended.
Intention: Don’t want to be bossy; want to come across as sweet and kind.
What’s the solution?
Always shorten the last syllable of your phrases. Which I trained Sandy to do in no time flat. We gave her a persuasive, authoritative, warm style. Now she can talk so people listen & does so in all environments of her life. Nobody interrupts her anymore and her relationship with her boss has much improved.
Case Study 2. The “Micromanagee”
I had a client at a Fortune 1000 company who reported to the CEO. She divulged that he micromanaged her.
We were role-playing a meeting she was to have the next day with her CEO, and she said: “um this is just an initial raw draft.” “just” “initial” “raw” and “draft” all mean the same thing.
Talk about coming across as afraid, insecure, and not the highly intelligent powerhouse that she was.
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Want to be more influential? We all want to communicate our most important messages in a way that encourages others to take action. Whether that action is voting for our candidate or picking up milk from the store, the words we use and how we speak play a huge role in getting the job done.
Of course, her boss is going to micromanage her! She’s not presenting confidently; why should he trust that she has all the details correct?
So we had her saying, “Hi [boss], here’s my draft, get a look & lemme know what you think.” Shortly after she began using plain, active language with concise breath groups, he stopped micromanaging her.
Here’s the deal. If we come across as insecure, why would our superiors at work not feel the need to micromanage us?
I suppose there are just natural micromanagers out there, but in the 20 years I’ve been doing this 98.9% have been stopped!
The solution to micromanagement.
This is a bit more complicated because insecurity doesn’t just disappear with a quick tip. We can do it, though, with a bit of determination and time.
- You must record yourself. Don’t be afraid. Every single fantastic communicator out there has worked on their communication skills.
- Listen to that recording 🙂 Assess yourself like a scientist. You take a baseline. Count the undermining words you use.
- Formulate your message into short, concise active language.
Follow these 3 steps & you’ll be able to talk so people listen 🙂 People won’t interrupt or micromanage you.
Case Study 3. The Interrupted
This client is a composite of many clients who’ve hired me because they’re being interrupted in meetings.
This is a very stressful time for these gorgeous, talented people. They’re even beginning to devalue their own worth. The voice in their head telling them they’re not worthy, you know what I mean. But I’m not a psychologist, so I’ll leave it at that.
The symptoms are as follows: Run-on sentences, over-emphasis of connector words, and over-use of filler words. I kid you not. Let’s try to show this in print. Read the following aloud:
“So I have an idea in order to get the ummm margins up we should do some testing in xyz area aaaaaand then we can try 123 aaaaand see if the numbers go up aaaaaaand ummm if they don’t we could….”
What’s the problem with this? Your listener’s processing skills. They are unable to process the information after a few sentences. Interrupting is rude, but interrupters obviously haven’t taken my class. Once they do, they’ll know how to deal with that, too. I digress.
(Disclaimer: Some acts of manterruptions are egregious.
People who rarely get interrupted.
You know those folks. They speak at the meeting, and everyone listens.
These folks are out there! You’ve had a few in your meetings. Or it was that one boss you had.
They’re entirely unfettered in any situation.
You know you want to be like them! And the good news is that you can. Every person you know (or know of) who’s a great communicator has worked on their skills.
They’ve learned the techniques, and they’ve practiced them.
Never be interrupted again.
We can try to train people to stop interrupting; but we can also teach people to speak in a way that is crystal clear, authoritative yet warm, concise & exciting. That kind of speech doesn’t get interrupted. That speaker doesn’t get micromanaged.
It’s necessary to train people to listen & understand better. I’m a Speech-Language Pathologist studying communication skills since I was a kid, and I still train to listen, understand & communicate better.
Continue to develop your communication skills and not only will you be able to talk so people are all ears, but they’ll also follow your lead as well as accept your ideas.
But not only do we need to practice listening, but we need to learn the techniques that those people who never get interrupted know. We need to learn them and practice them.
Talk So People Listen
That’s your job.
I take some of the blame off of the interrupters and put it on the speakers.
Just like when you go into a presentation excited to hear the topic, and your mind is wandering within minutes. You’re blaming yourself: “I have no attention span anymore!” Guess what? It’s the speaker’s fault. But that’s another story.
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Confident, concise, and influential.
Look. You’re a good communicator. You’re smart & you tell impressive stories in the regular milieus of your life. People listen to you and do what you say.
But during anxiety-ridden situations (meetings, presentations, interviews, arguments, anytime you want something from the situation) your skills deflate. Yup. No one’s immune. And the irony is that’s when you need to be the most influential! During high-stakes situations!
Do you wanna know why we can’t be as confident, concise, & influential as we are in more comfortable situations? Because our brains haven’t yet evolved to communicate in a crystal clear, persuasive fashion during stressful situations. I don’t care who you are. When you’re chatting with your close confidant about your skills & your experiences, you come across as more credible, more authoritative, smarter than you do when you’re in an anxiety-ridden situation.
Are you a bit nervous when speaking during meetings? If you say “never” I might suggest you’re in denial. We all have some nervousness when called to speak in front of others. We literally go into fight or flight mode, and we lose our connection with our brain.
Change the bits you can control.
Let’s change this together! Send this article to all your friends and colleagues suffering from interruptions and micromanagement.
First, learn relaxation exercises. I’ve got some great ones. You need to be so relaxed you could fall asleep. And that’s what you need to be during every communicative situation. What?!!! Am I not supposed to be on red alert? No. Comfy cozy is the answer to your problems.
Fearlessness is the result of complete relaxation. Being completely relaxed is the first step to being able to talk so people listen to you & follow your direction and call to action.
Use a full, warm voice.
Next, Use a full, warm voice with concise sentences. Let air come out when you speak. Don’t hold your breath, people! That’s how to talk so people listen!
Thirdly, Get your intonation right. Don’t go up in pitch at the end & don’t hang on to the last syllable. Make your connector words really short–even better eliminate them. Download our free 9 Secret Steps to Influencing Others.
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