Ever get the feeling that no one is listening to you?
Does your constant stream of fawning compliments to your managers fall on deaf ears? When you speak up in meetings, are your brilliant ideas drowned out by the bickering over who gets the last jelly donut? When you sit in your cubical, wretchedly sobbing throughout the afternoon, does it seem like no one hears, or cares?
Friend, if no one is listening to you, listen to Alex Malley. Malley is chief executive at CPA Australia and a LinkedIn “influencer.” For someone as easily influenced as you, what he has to say about making people listen to you definitely needs to be – well, listened to.
As Malley says in “Why is no one listening to you?,” his most recent post, “competing to have your voice heard over the rest is one thing, but actually being listened to presents an even greater challenge – especially when you’re positioned on the lower rungs of the ladder.”
So true, especially in your case, since you seem to be positioned under the foundation, under the basement and under the floor on which the lower rungs of that darn ladder sits.
According to Malley, many people who find their voice muffled “will default to the misguided strategy of saying what they think people want to hear in order to feel like they’re making a valued contribution.” Frankly, this seems like an excellent strategy to me, but at your company, it will never work. Your management team is so confused that not even Stephen Hawking on steroids could figure out what the heck it is they want to hear.
This is why Malley is right on when he says, “simply agreeing with other people will serve you absolutely no purpose.” Besides, the instant you agree with some boneheaded management scheme, you run the very real risk that you will be blamed, when the inevitable happens and everything goes kablooey.
But there is hope. If you want people to listen to you, here are five tips guaranteed to make your voice stand out with bell-like clarity.
No. 1. “One size doesn’t fit all.” When responding to new ideas, remember that “some prefer quick, to-the-point messages.” True. For these people, I find that the only response necessary is a brief, heartfelt, “You’re an idiot!” For others, Malley says, you’ll want to respond with an “in-depth conversation that covers all the angles.” Also true. Try an “interesting idea. Do you know scientists believe that evolutionary development in the human species could result in significant changes in our sociological, economical and neurological responses to ideas such as yours? Also, you’re an idiot.”
No. 2. “Be a collaborative individual, not a compliant groupie.” Malley believes you will “never be listened to or earmarked for a management position unless you maintain a level of independence.” Possibly. But until your trust fund is deposited in your Swiss bank account, I say: Keep your mouth shut.
No. 3. “Put time on your side.” Malley thinks “picking the right time to speak is imperative.” Agreed. How about 2025? 2025 is a good year to make your opinions known, and, if you’ve been bottling up your feelings for 10 years, you’ll be more than ready to make yourself heard. “Watch for those moments in the day when the person seems to be relatively undistracted, then engage,” is another suggestion. How about 2 a.m. when you burst into your manager’s bedroom and give her the benefit of 10 years of unspoken frustration and rage? If she doesn’t listen, the police surely will.
No. 4. “Earn it.” Prove yourself to be a good corporate soldier before blasting off with your harebrained opinions. Even then, soldiers are encouraged to “do so constructively by offering a possible solution.” If you can’t think of how to solve your manager’s problems, you can always use a very constructive, “Drop dead.”
No. 5 is “Less is more.” Put another way, “long-windedness is a sure-way of losing your audience.” Fortunately, working together, we’ve already stitched together a very nice, very concise commentary you can unleash at just the right moment. So, when all the chatter has quieted down, and your manager looks receptive to hearing what a valued employee like you really thinks, you know what to say:
“You’re an idiot. Drop dead.”
You’ll be fired on the spot, of course. And escorted out of the building by security guards. And you may never get another job as long as you live. But that’s OK. At least, at long last, somebody listened.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at firstname.lastname@example.org.