The Approachable Leader’s Handbook of Being Heard, Vol. 2

For those of you human beings out there (and I think you know who you are) here’s a quick list of assumptions.

You want to be:

Valued. Needed. Wanted.
Affirmed. Appreciated. Accepted.
Respected. Recognized. Remembered.
Taken seriously. Given a chance. Part of something that matters.

IN SHORT: You want to be heard.

Because if you’re not – if people can’t hear you – they can’t follow you.

And if they can’t follow you, you lose.

Today we’re going to explore another selection of practices (read part one here!) to help you be heard by the people who matter most: Employees, staff, customers, kids, volunteers – whomever you serve.

CAUTION: If you’re hoping to read a bunch of vague platitudes like “just hear people first” or “have integrity” – look elsewhere. This list contains only practical, actionable and specific ideas to help you be heard.

And whether you’re a leader, writer, manager, parent, director, marketer, or fourth grade teacher, you’ll be able to plug these practices into your daily life today:

1. Start with a firmer step. A few sad realities: The world is not waiting breathlessly to hear what you have to say. The blogosphere is not standing on the edge of their seats eagerly anticipating your next post. And your followers on Twitter – who, by the way, don’t care about your tweets as much as they care about their stats – are not waking up an hour earlier just to read the hilarious update about your Rottweiler’s latest genital licking adventure.

Instead, consider these firmer-step suggestions:

FIRST: Align your petitions with the self-interest of your audience. Find out what their success seeds are.

SECOND: Give clear direction of what you want people to follow. Make the audience your accomplice.

THIRD: Build a listening platform. Demonstrate to the people you want to hear that they have been heard first.

FOURTH: Create a dialogue that draws people into the cause. Say things you haven’t said elsewhere.

FINALLY: Invite layers of interpretation around your message. Allow people to add multiple dimensions to your ideas.

Follow this process, and your voice will be heard. Maybe even by your dog. Do you hit the ground running or hit the ground stroking?

2. Be music, not noise. The panhandlers who earn the most money aren’t the ones who ask for change; they’re the ones who play drum kits made out of paint buckets. The difference maker? One plays music – the other makes noise. One is heard – the other is ignored.

And, as a result, one eats – the other starves. Lesson learned: You can’t shout your way to being heard. Amidst the buzz of competing voices, nobody notices normal, nobody buys boring and nobody pays for average. Construct your unfair advantage or risk being skipped like a commercial on Tivo. Are singing songs or vomiting sound effects?

3. Show them that you can bend. Mental flexibility is a rare thing – which is exactly why it gets through to people. As I learned from the book Flow, “A psychologically androgynous person in effect doubles her repertoire of responses and can interact with the world in terms of a much richer and varied spectrum.”

Essentially, it’s about striking a balance between resolute persistence and commitment, yet remaining flexible enough to bend without compromising foundation or sacrificing respect. Keeping yourself amenable to change of mind instead of allowing the arrogance clamp of terminal certainty to suffocate your brain’s elasticity.

Leaders who do this, get heard. Do you retain ongoing openness to your misguided perceptions?

4. Have a message that’s worthy of being heard. Fascination trumps relevance. Moment to moment, you want your audience to be curious about what will happen next. Here’s how: Creating a message (and a messenger) worth looking at. Make sure you have to have enough going on in your life to be interesting to talk with, listen to and be heard by.

Do not underestimate the importance of this. Everything you’ve learned on this list so far accomplishes nothing without a baseline level of interestingness. How much time are you spending – each day – becoming more fascinating?

5. Create emotional disturbance. Dylan once wrote, “The purpose of art is to stop time.” If you want to accomplish that, you have to disappear from the page. To hide the memory of your hand. To democratize your message in a way that meets your audience where they are. And to reward people from any angle.

These are the things that engage immediately. These are the things that get heard. Do you get people’s full attention as soon as they taste you?

6. Build a truth bridge. First, jolt people into something completely unexpected. Let your words bring things out of them they didn’t know were there. Functioning as a verbal mirror, you help people revise the way they look at themselves. Kind of hard to ignore someone who does that.

Secondly, help people funnel down their world. Help people know what they know. Even if it’s as simple as sending your notes to them after listening to their problems. By reflecting their reality – on paper – you help them see truth in the round.

Ultimately, it’s about standing at the door and knocking patiently until people open it – not breaking into their lives. That’s how you get heard. How are you helping people fall in love with themselves all over again?

REMEMBER: If they can’t hear you, they can’t follow you.

And if they can’t follow you, you lose.

What’s the cost of being unheard?

For the list called, “22 Unexpected Ways to Help People,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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