I coach many professionals who tell me that their opinions are not heard or respected by their leadership, peers, partners, friends or even clients. It is easy to blame others for not listening, but many times, a bit of self-reflection and attention to how you are engaging can lead to your voice not only being heard but becoming relevant and respected. Here are a few tips for anyone who wants to communicate with more authority.

• It’s about me! We all know people who turn every conversation inward and in turn disrespect the speaker. Not every conversation is about you, your experiences or your ideas. Allow a speaker to finish their thought and lead the conversation unless you have something truly interesting to others to add. Make sure the speaker has finished sharing. Do not interrupt. Let others have their moment in the spotlight before you contribute to the conversation.

• Be all in. Stop looking at your phone, watch or out the window while someone else is speaking. Make consistent eye with those who are speaking. Let them know you are listening by reflecting back when they conclude a point. Lean in towards the person who is leading the conversation. Nod and reaffirm that you are listening. Take notes if appropriate.

Many times, we believe we have heard every word of a conversation while multitasking, only to find out that we missed a crucial point. As a result, when asked to comment we make a statement that doesn’t make sense. This is embarrassing and memorable to others who are listening. You will be heard when those around you know that you are engaged in the conversation.

• Read the body. Peter Drucker said, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” Study and master body language. This skill will enhance your communication and your overall business success. There are many resources on body language, but few professionals intentionally study the art of reading others. Failure to read important body cues will limit your effectiveness. Trust me, this is a skill worth spending time mastering.

• The debater. We all know people who turn every conversation into an argument or debate. If you are one of those people, stop it! No one wants to argue every point or hear you get emotional about, for example, your love for chocolate versus vanilla. To be heard and respected, you must remain level-headed. When you have a point to add, do so in a tone that is appropriate for the conversation. If you feel yourself getting upset, angry, emotional or irritated, politely leave the discussion. If you need to make a point, wait until you are calm and re-engage the appropriate person.

• Deserving. If you are not being heard and the above tips do not resonate with you, it could mean that something in your past has inhibited you from being heard. Examine your past and current behaviors towards your peers, friends and clients. Are you responsive to their needs? Are you respectful? Can you be trusted to complete a task on time and keep confidences? Are you a gossip or a whinner? Are you polite, kind and gracious to those around you? Seek insight from close allies about how they perceive you and ask for honest feedback. Be prepared to apologize and correct behaviors that could be limiting your long-term success.

Everyone has a voice and a contribution. Some have developed habits that are hard to break and can limit individual success in multiple areas. I hope these tips are helpful as you use your voice. Please share this post with others.

All the best towards success!

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