The Internet is (mostly) a wonderful thing. In an instant, we can share knowledge or insight with the world. We can learn from others who are experts in a particular field. We can join conversations with people we’ve never physically met. I’m convinced the power it has given us to have a voice and platform to share is the work of real-life magic. That – or it’s powered by elves. It’s definitely one of those two.
In the same breath, those moments of magic are also changing the dynamics of collaboration in the real-world. When entire generations of people have become accustomed to always having a voice online, they bring those same expectations with them everywhere. It’s created – and continues to create – an environment where people are more focused on making their voice heard. Here are two ways we can strike a better balance between talking and being heard in our business and personal relationships.
Talk less and listen more
Sounds simple, right? It should be, but we created workplaces where more and more people are invited to meetings to participate. Everyone is charged with collaborating (i.e talking) and the result is multiple situations a day where people rush to get their two cents into the conversation. We even train and coach people to “speak up more” when given the opportunity! Instead, let’s focus more on listening to the underlying messages being shared.
- Instead of focusing on what you’re going to say next after everyone is done talking, be the person in the room who will connect the messages. Listen to the underlying messages being shared by others and find themes which can push the group towards a decision.
- When you notice someone talking excessively in a meeting without adding a proportionate amount of value, pull them aside afterwards and give them some one-on-one time so you can better understand their point of view and show them you’re listening. If they feel valued and heard, they may not feel so inclined to hold court in future meetings.
Play different roles for different situations
The Internet gave us a platform to amplify and share our thoughts/opinions. What the Internet has failed to do is help us recognize the role we need to play given the circumstances. Parenting is a great example of how this plays out. As a parent, there are plenty of times where you need to voice your opinion or insight. However, in some cases, you need to recognize when your child doesn’t need to hear your voice. They need to talk it out, get something off their chest or just be heard. We can take the same approach into the workplace and better understand the role we need to play. Sit back, listen and take in the whole conversation during a meeting before formulating a thought or sentence. In others, take the lead. The point is to be cognizant of the role you need to play before falling into the trap of always amplifying your voice or position.
So there you go! Fight the urge to always be the first to talk, commit to listening more intentionally and I guarantee you’ll be surprised and grateful for what you heard way more than what you said.