A man and a woman sitting in separate armchairs engaged in a conversation. The man, on the left, is gesticulating with his hand while talking, and the woman, on the right, is listening attentively. They are separated by a small wooden table with a potted plant and two mason jars on top, and a few books underneath. Both individuals are dressed in business casual attire, and they are positioned against a teal-colored wall. The overall setting suggests a relaxed but professional environment.

From Talking to Being Heard: How to Get Your Leader to Listen

We've all been there, feeling the frustration of being unheard in the workplace. You're full of brilliant ideas and keen observations, yet your voice seems to echo in an empty room. I've walked in your shoes, and I understand how you feel!

In this post, I'm unpacking how we can collectively shift the dynamic, empowering you to make your leader stop simply hearing and start truly listening. If you've ever felt overlooked at work, this one's for you.

Why Leaders Zone Out: Understanding the Disconnect

Before we dive into solutions, let's consider your leader's perspective. Even the best leaders are juggling a whirlwind of responsibilities – deadlines, competing priorities, and managing expectations. This constant pressure can make it genuinely difficult to give you their undivided attention.

Of course, sometimes, it goes beyond being overwhelmed. Leaders can get attached to being the source of ideas and solutions. They might be surrounded by people who consistently support their proposals. A different perspective can unintentionally feel like a challenge instead of valuable input in these situations.

Let's be clear: this doesn't excuse poor listening skills! But understanding where the disconnect comes from helps you both avoid taking it personally and find ways to bridge that gap.

Your 5-Step Toolkit for Getting Heard

While effective communication is a two-way street, you can take powerful steps to make sure your contributions are recognized, even if your leader isn't initially receptive. Here's your action plan:

1) Prepare with Purpose
Think like a seasoned journalist. Before approaching your leader, boil down your idea with these questions:

        • The "What?": Can you summarize the core of your message in one clear sentence?
        • The "Why?": Why is this important, and why should your leader care?
        • The "How?": If you're proposing a solution, outline the main steps involved.
        • The "Ask": Be specific. Do you need advice, budget approval, or something else?

2) Timing is Key
Respect your leader's time. Instead of ambushing them when they're swamped, try: "I have something to discuss, would now work or should we schedule a bit later?" This shows consideration and increases their ability to focus.

3) Speak Their Language
This is your chance to think strategically. Notice how your leader tends to communicate. Are they focused on goals, problem-solving, or team collaboration? Use that to your advantage:

        • Goal-Oriented? "I believe this could help us exceed our targets ahead of schedule."
        • Problem Solver? "I've noticed a client trend, and I think this approach might help."
        • Team Player? "I'd love your insights, and I think this could benefit the whole team."

4) Demonstrate Active Listening
Great listening isn't just for leaders! When they've finished speaking, try these techniques:

        • Summarize: "Okay, so your main concern is the project timeline, is that right?" This clarifies things and lets them correct any misunderstandings.
        • Empathize (if appropriate): "I understand this is a tough decision. Would it help if I gave you a quick breakdown of my recommendations?" This validates their feelings and positions you as a supportive resource.

5) Persistence Pays Off
Getting heard is a skill, and like any skill, it improves with practice. If your first attempt doesn't land perfectly, don't get discouraged. Give yourself time to digest their feedback, then circle back by either:

        • Reframing Your Idea: "I've considered your thoughts. Can we revisit the proposal with these adjustments?" This demonstrates flexibility.
        • Adding New Context: "This new development makes the project even more valuable. Can we discuss it briefly?" This creates urgency.

The Bigger Picture: Creating a Culture of Listening

Making yourself heard isn't just about your individual success. It leads to a stronger, more effective workplace for everyone. When leaders actively listen, you get:

  • Empowered Employees: When people feel heard, they bring greater enthusiasm to their work.
  • Faster Problem Solving: Diverse perspectives mean you catch potential issues and find solutions more efficiently.
  • Innovation: True listening creates space for those out-of-the-box ideas to flourish.

Your Challenge: Put it into Practice

The more you practice these strategies, the more natural they'll feel. You might be surprised how small changes can open up new possibilities. So what are you waiting for? Give these tips a try and let me know how it goes!

Please reach out to me on LinkedIn or Instagram and share your successes. We're all learning together, and your wins can help inspire others!

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    Free guide

    Are you tired of waiting on the sidelines for that well-deserved raise or promotion?

    Unlock your negotiation potential with Own Your Worth: Ditch the Fear and Get That Leadership Promotion, a power-packed guide designed for women leaders ready to claim their next raise or promotion.

      By signing up to receive this guide you also agree to receive further communication from The Tailored Approach.

      own your worth mockup2

      Own Your Worth

      Ditch the fear

      & get that leadership

      Promotion

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