June Resolution: Being Heard


We’ve all seen it whether we’re in the grocery store, a restaurant, or even a meeting; it happens everywhere…the one sided argument. Two people are talking, and the volume of the conversations bubbles over, one person turns red, and the other throws up their hands in frustration. You look away in embarrassment for the people involved, but when the conversation erupts, you can’t help but stare peripherally. Nothing is being solved in this communication – no compromise is being reached. As the people shout over one another, the only winners are anger and resentment.

And to think, this could all be avoided if we were better communicators. This month I challenge you to really pay attention to the conversations you are having with others. Are you being heard…and are you hearing others? Because remember, it isn’t always about the nail!

Whenever I go into a conversation, I always try to remember two things: first, everyone has a right to his or her feelings about a situation, and second, it is best when we all realize that winning should not be your goal.

Keeping those two key points in mind, how can you make your conversations more successful? Here is a simple list to keep in mind:

  • Make sure you hear and understand what the person is asking for
  • Acknowledge what you’ve heard
  • Share your perspective

Oftentimes we find ourselves in a conversation with a person who just wants to “fix it”. Being heard is therapeutic, so set expectations for your conversation; a person might not know if you want them to help fix the situation or if you just need a sympathetic ear. Make it clear up front by saying something like, “I just have to vent for a few minutes” or “I’m really looking for advice, let me tell you about this situation.” By stating your expectations, you’ve given the person you’re in a conversation with boundaries.

You might find yourself on the opposite end of the conversation, thus being the “fix it” person. The video, “It’s Not About The Nail”, written and directed by Jason Headley really illustrates the difference in communication styles.  As funny as the video is, it represents the deep need for people to vent and feel that they are being heard. Sometimes people are just looking for reassurance or want to voice their thoughts. If we don’t simply listen – for whatever reason – we are robbing someone of a piece of themselves. Think about it – when you feel you aren’t being heard, you tend to get louder and more frustrated, right? So, by simply listening, and acknowledging that we hear what the other person is saying, we restore our friend/companion’s needs and truly connect with them.

So how can you make sure you’re heard and also hearing what’s being said? Be on the other end and empathize with the person. Actively listen, put yourself in the other person’s shoes – this is big! It doesn’t take brains to turn up the volume and to talk over someone else. If you’re the person who just gets louder, think about the message you send when you do that—not only are you showing that “winning” the conversation is your top priority, but you are also effectively dismissing the other person’s opinion. Talking loudly doesn’t make you right, it only makes you look disrespectful. Haven’t you ever heard the wise saying, “Silence is golden”? Try to keep this in mind when you are in an argument – choose your time to speak wisely.  If it is a really heated discussion that you’re in, take notes so you can make the points you need to make without interrupting.

Other people’s problems are always so easy to solve. Anyone can play armchair psychologist when they don’t have to apply their advice in a real life setting. Sometimes you just have to listen and let the person go through the experience before a solution can be found. This is also good advice to apply in your business. For example, when a customer has a complaint about a product or another experience they may have encountered, hear them out and make sure you acknowledge that you understand how they feel before moving forward with a remedy. This will only help you build rapport with your customers, thus making for lifelong clients.

Of all my resolutions to date, this is the one that, if implemented correctly, will pay the greatest dividends. If you can master the art of listening and learn to make your voice heard, you will grow in every facet of your life. You will better connect with family, friends and also your customers.

Special thanks to Jason Headley, writer and director of “It’s Not About The Nail.”

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