March 9, 2022

Get Your Voice Heard at Work

I'm Melissa
I'm a Career and Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech. I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.
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Being in a meeting, ready to share the expertise you were hired for and then feeling like you weren’t heard, can have you jumping on the next struggle bus wondering what went wrong.

On this week’s episode of Navigating Your Career, I’m going to share my fail-proof framework for getting your voice heard and expertise used with any audience and for any topic.

I developed this framework after working with countless clients to to influence effectively and position themselves as experts. It can be hard to sit in a room where bias exists, where there is stress, and you put yourself out there and hear crickets. You were hired for your expertise, and this episode is going to ensure it gets used.

What You’ll Learn

My 5 step framework for getting your voice heard at work

The common pitfalls people make when trying to influence others

How to be seen as a team player and sought after expert

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Welcome to Navigating Your Career.

The only podcast that blends personal development, professional skills, and psychology to help you get happy at work and live the life you want. If you want to stop feeling stuck and start feeling better, this is the place for you. I’m your host, Melissa Lawrence. Let’s get started.

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of the podcast. I am still in awe of a sitting here in March right now. It has gone by so fast this year before you know it is going to be over, although it’s also just beginning. It just feels so strange. But this week we are going to talk about something that comes up a lot with my clients and that is getting your voice heard and expertise used at work. When I thought of creating this episode, I thought of the show inventing Anna on Netflix. Have you seen this? It’s so smart and bingeworthy. I was so sad when it was over. If you caught it, then you know that the main character, Anna, portrays herself as a German heiress. She goes to New York City and has this dream of building a social club in her name, but she really doesn’t have any money. But you would never know it because she’s wearing designer clothing, going on yachts, and was able to get large banks and businessmen to loan her millions of dollars. And she did this with her own influence, with her ability to read the room, to adjust for what her audience wanted.

And then she also, of course, did some shady things that ultimately got her arrested. So you may be wondering, what does this have to do with you getting your voice heard in a meeting when people are ignoring you, not listening to your ideas? Am I going to suggest that you start behaving like a German heiress? No, not quite. But I will say there is a lot that we can learn from Anna. The framework that I’m going to teach you today that works for every person and every audience does have some overlap with the behavior that Anna had where she was able to go in as a young woman and get taken seriously by some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in New York. She got hurt and she built her belief in her ideas and she helped other people build their belief in her ideas as well. She had people seeking her input. So listen to this. Learn from this framework and if you’re looking for some fun after the episode, check out Inventing Anna and watch it with this framework and this episode in mind and you’re going to look at it in a whole new way.

So let’s get to it. Now, being in a meeting, ready to share the expertise that you were hired for and then feeling like you weren’t heard can have you jumping on the next struggle bus wondering what went wrong. Feeling heard is different from having an expectation that your opinion will always be used. So a common misconception that my clients have is that to feel heard, they need to have their perspective used, their way of solving the problem. And their idea used is the marker, the measurement that they used to say that they were heard at work. But I really want you to separate the two and challenge yourself to adjust the expectation that to be heard, you have to have your way. Because if your definition for being heard is that you’re always having your perspective used, then there’s a couple of problems with that. One is that you will actually never feel heard, because it’s impossible that every person that you work with throughout the course of your career is always going to want to use your ideas. And secondly, you’re not being openminded and curious about the needs of the business or your colleagues, and you’re probably hearing this and thinking, okay, well, Melissa, I don’t need to have my ideas always used, but I am right a lot of the time.

Right. And we’re going to talk about that because you do have a very important perspective and you do have a level of expertise, and it is important that your voice is heard, that your ideas are heard, and that you are contributing and collaborating with your organization, and that your ideas and input are being used on some level. And so what this episode is really about is helping you get that perspective not only heard, but also the more that you practice this framework, it’s going to be used as well. So at every level of your career, you’re going to meet new stakeholders that are going to disagree with you. You cannot control the needs of the business or the behavior of others. But my framework enables you to use a solid strategy for being a sought after expert who understands the business, who is competent, and who others seek the opinion of. It’s a fail proof strategy for communicating and influencing effectively. And with practice, you will get your voice heard and ultimately your expertise used. So there are five steps in my framework in this process, and I want you to listen to this. I’m going to tell you also at the end that there is a way for you to download this framework so that you don’t have to furiously be taking notes.

So the first is to have an outcome in mind. Go into the conversation knowing what you want out of it. What is that winning outcome that you want to have? The second step is to read the room, know the right place for your message and the communication preferences of your audience. Consider the context is the third step, including relevant information that your audience needs to know. The fourth step is collaborate, which is identifying allies, bringing other people into the conversation, which is also going to make you look like a team player. And the fifth step is listen, which is listening to your audience and identifying what might be missing and what is in it for them. And I’m going to dig into each of these in more detail. So the first step have an outcome in mind before going into the conversation. Determine what your winning outcome is, what is it that you want to change, or what response do you want from your audience, from your boss, from whomever you’re speaking to? If, for example, you want to influence stakeholders to use your solution or your idea, knowing this ahead of time will help you strategically communicate using the following steps in this framework, which is going to give you a better chance of getting what you want.

When you speak up without a plan and without knowing what you really want, it’s easier to get caught up in things that are going to distract you, like how a person’s face is looking when you’re saying your idea or your feelings about a person or the situation. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, if other people in the room were on their phone and being distracted while you’re talking, all of those things have the potential to get you off track. So if you don’t know what you’re really trying to get out of that conversation, then it’s easy for you to pivot or address or get frustrated by these other things that are being thrown at you as opposed to focusing on what you’re there to begin with. So if you go in with that winning outcome ahead of time, you’ll not only be able to better prepare, but you’ll be able to be more focused and be more objective on the topic. Number two is to read the room. So consider your desired outcome that’s step one, and then decide what is the best vehicle or method for your message. Is it better to meet one on one with the decision maker or bring the topic up in a group setting, consider the communication preferences of your audience.

Identify if they need prereads or if they like to think out loud as people say, where they like to talk through the ideas. If a meeting with multiple people is the best format, or if it’s something that would be best delivered one on one, you can also consider speaking one on one with key stakeholders ahead of time to build strategic support going into a meeting setting or in a situation where a decision is going to be made and there are multiple people contributing to that decision. So if you do any sort of communication assessments at your organization, I use with my clients, I use Disk, which is a great way for knowing your own communication preferences, but then also how to read the preferences of others and tailor your communication to them. So that’s always a tool that you can bring in to this situation to ensure that you’re communicating in the best way possible. Now the third step is to consider the context. A big mistake when trying to influence someone else is not understanding their perspective. Once you know the outcome you want in the vehicle or method that you will use to communicate, be sure to include the relevant information for the audience, not for you.

So you think your idea is good for all of the reasons that you have, and you could be considering the company’s perspective. You could be thinking about your boss, but I want you to think about it literally from the perspective of your boss and your boss’s boss. Identify the business perspective. What’s in it for them? What’s in it for other people? What’s in it for your Department or team? Go through that line of questioning before trying to influence with your idea because that is going to show that you are looking at other people’s perspectives. You’re being a team player and also that you have the business acumen to be able to influence and make decisions and ideas that are going to be in the best interests of the team and the company at large. Now the fourth step is to collaborate. So you want to identify people who will or do support your idea. You can talk to them ahead of time before going into the meeting so that you have people that you can bring into the conversation when you get pushback. So think about the perspective of the other people involved and actively seek their input.

What blind spots could you have? What could you be missing from your own perspective? It’s common to get caught up in what we want, what we think is best based on our own experience and skills and expertise. But if every person did that, we wouldn’t make progress. Lean into the perspective of others. Another idea is to solicit feedback actively in a meeting by asking someone else what their thoughts are before offering your own. This behavior isn’t only inclusive, but it will help you be more persuasive. So how this could look in a meeting is if you’re talking on a specific topic related to a project or a milestone and you have an idea about it before offering your idea, bring someone else into the conversation and you could say something like, Jack, we were just talking about this last week. What do you think on this topic and help other people get involved? And then you can say you agree or disagree and then offer your opinion, but it will help you give the perception that you’re more of a team player if you’re bringing other people in and actively getting their perspective before pushing your own.

So I talk about this a little bit with John Mason in a recent podcast episode. He’s the head of talent management for corporate functions at Takata Pharmaceuticals and we talked about this as a strategy that you can use for getting heard at work. We also talked about some other different ways that you can be more inclusive and then also influence leadership and get to the next level in your career. So I definitely recommend going back and listening to that episode. If you haven’t listened to it yet, I’ll put a link to it in the show notes. Okay, now the final step is to listen. So you go into the conversation with the plan, with your winning outcome. You read the room and know the best communication style and vehicle for your message. You’ve considered others perspectives, including all relevant information, and you collaborated with key stakeholders. Now it’s time to share your idea and listen. It’s common to share get resistance and start to get defensive or shut down. And this is normal brain behavior. Instead, listen for what you could still be missing. How else could you frame what you want in a way that is compelling?

Listen to the feedback that you’re getting, even if you don’t agree with it and assess it objectively. You can ask yourself, how is this true? Why does this person think this? It will help you proactively address these obstacles for next time or for this specific issue to kind of go back in and continue the conversation. Just because someone says no one time or you get pushed back one time doesn’t mean the conversation is over. You might have the opportunity to still continue that dialogue. You can also give the feedback some thought and return to the conversation ready to address it. So if it got put off to another meeting to continue, you can talk about it then and be better prepared. You can also use this when you have a similar opportunity coming up in the future. Knowing that you addressed it now will help you be better the next time. So when you apply these five steps to your situation, you will inherently become a more inclusive and persuasive speaker, which will encourage others to listen in and hear you more than they might be right now. And getting your voice heard, it takes practice.

I know it isn’t easy, and I know that there is bias and all of these other things that can influence a person’s ability to really hear another person. But when you apply these five steps to your situation and you continue to practice them, you will get better and better regardless of other people’s bias they may have. Because this is a very strategic, objective approach and the goal isn’t to become the person that everyone listens to because you will always have to adjust your approach. There’s always going to be people at every level in your career that are not going to want to listen to you. So the goal is really to learn the strategies that get you heard with any audience. And that is what this framework is. It’s your fail proof strategy. So like I said in the beginning, I have a guide that you can download for free that illustrates these five steps and gives you some more guidance on the framework so you can use it right now. Don’t just listen to this episode and say that was a good idea and move on. You can use this in your next meeting so to grab it, just head to my website.

It’s melissamlorence voice. I will put a link in the show notes. You can get immediate access to the download so let me recap the five steps. Have an outcome read the room, consider the context, collaborate and listen every time I say those last two though I always think of vanilla ice in my head singing ice ice baby I don’t know. It’s either dating me you know exactly what I’m talking about or you have no idea what I’m talking about but I actually had to look up the lyrics. I know this is in that song because I get that tune in my head every time I say it. But anyway so the difference between those being heard and those aren’t is the strategy the ability to use a framework like this and to keep practicing it until you don’t need it anymore. It will become more intuitive. Don’t let other people make you complacent or silence your voice. Bias exists. Obstacles are going to happen but the better you get at speaking up despite that, the more you will be heard and the more you are heard, the more you will be sought after as an expert and you will get your expertise used and you will get that outcome that you ultimately want.

All right, that is all for this week’s episode. Have an amazing week. If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to the podcast so you get notified of new and bonus episodes. I have some exciting things coming up that you are not going to want to miss. I will talk to you soon.

Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode.

I truly hope you enjoyed it.

If this episode resonated with you or helped you in any way Please share it on your social media and tag me.

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Also please make sure to subscribe and leave a review and until next time have fun navigating your career knowing the life you want is totally possible.

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No longer settles for “good enough”

Hi, I’m Melissa.

Career & Leadership Coach for Women in Pharma/Biotech

I'm a former Talent & Development leader in Pharma/Biotech turned CEO and Certified Professional Career & Life Coach. I also host the podcast, Your Worthy Career.

I've been where you are, and I help you create the career you want without working more hours or settling for good enough.

I'm leading a movement of women in the industry who are figuring out exactly what they want and shattering the glass ceiling. The very real ceiling in the industry, but also the one that we impose on ourselves. 

So long, imposter syndrome and overthinking. It's time to step into the impact and life you're worthy of having.

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