Can you hear me now? No. Really. Getting attention and being heard in this noisy world can be exhausting and discouraging.
You know the scenes in movies when the Army yells, “HOOAH!”?
It means H. U. A. = Heard, Understood and Acknowledged.
“HOOAH!” lets their Commanding Officer know that the instructions have been received and that they’re gonna get.it.done.
Can I get a virtual raise of hands - like, right now, raise your hand wherever you are - If…
You can think of a time in the last week when you WISH you could have gotten a “HUA!” back from someone?
Like, say an SO? Or a toddler? Or coworker? Just as a for-instance ;)
Heard, understood and acknowledged - are distinct actions. Deliberate, separate responses.
When we say we want to be heard, what we really want is to be understood and acknowledged.
Unless you’re a Commanding Officer, how do you get attention for what you’re saying?
Let’s talk about how to make sure your points are understood and you get the acknowledgement and action you need, in a way that creates respect and can help your reputation, so you don’t seem needy. How do you get a HUA holler back the right way?
The pre-game. THINK IT THROUGH.
(If you want the short cut, here’s a checklist for all of these steps. You can download it instantly here.)
1. What do you want to get across?
Distill your point down to as simple a statement as possible. Then cut out all of the unnecessary words. Get rid of the fluff. You may add some fluff back later. You’re going to be restating the same thing a few ways a few different times but having a “headline” version of what you need them to understand and acknowledge will help you drive it home.
2. How will you sharing that information make a difference?
Thinking through your ideal result - describe the best possible outcome once you have their attention.
How will it impact the other person? Will that other person take action and do the thing? Change their mind? Are you hoping it will trigger an emotional connection like joy, guilt, shame, caution?
How will it impact you? What feeling do you hope you’ll have afterward? How’s it going to make a difference for you?
3. AND… Is it worth it?
Is it worth the time and energy to fight for attention air time?
:: Touchy subject disclaimer ::
Here’s what I deeply internalized with my Alzheimer’s grandmother. Most of the stuff we talk about in our day-to-day lives does not matter.
For dementia patients to key into their diminishing focus ability, it takes EFFORT. Is small talk worth it? Not really. But what is worth it is really, really valuable. It’s totally worth the investment of effort to tell her I love her. To make sure she eats.
She would never remember what I said but she would always remember how I made her feel. She would smile at me. She scowled at others - like family who fought with her about the fact that no, there weren’t cows in the trees.
What’s the point of arguing about cows in the trees? Does it matter? To what end?
Which brings us to…
4. If your answer’s “Yes, it’s worth it,” then you need to tailor your message to the person whose attention you want.
Knowing your audience gives you an unseen advantage. Compassion is powerful - as humans, we’re wired to connect. The more we can authentically demonstrate that we’re aligned to someone else’s best interest, the easier it is for them to give us what we need and want.
Start by imagining the other person’s wants, needs, priorities, and motivation. You’ll weave these points in to support your statements and add weight and urgency to your requests.
What are they currently working towards? What risks are they mitigating?
For even more in-depth examples of how to build heartfelt connections and relationships with those you work with, to get attention at work, positive professional caliber inter-personal PR with those who can sponsor you in some way, like your client or mentor, check out this (free) e-course > Sponsor Woo.
Because this is worth the effort and your relationship with the other person matters, here’s a proven formula for saying whatever it is you need them to hear:
Tell them there will be a test. When you start by telling them you want to hear back what questions they have or their opinion you’re priming them to dial in their focus in advance.
You can say, “I’m about to go over XYZ. Can you do me a favor please and after I’m done, let me know if it generates any questions or if you see any impacts I need to consider further?”
Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, tell them again, remind them of what you just told them. Attention spans aside, a healthy dose of repetition, emotional triggers and our own individual mental dot-connecting for humans to really learn something. This may feel redundant but this hand-holding can be as simple and straightforward as a few sentences, depending on your topic.
Check out this quick reference guide that you can use as a reminder the next time you’re having to intentionally get attention: Your Checklist & Cheat Sheet to Get Attention & Be Heard (the RIGHT way)
State the topic: Hit the bullet points of what you want to say in as few words as possible.
“I’m about to go over XYZ.”
Why does it matter to them? Woo, baby, woo.
“You’re gonna love it because it will help relieve ABC and boost your DEF.”
Remember to test prep.
“Can you do me a favor please and after I’m done, let me know if it generates any questions or if you see any impacts I need to consider further?”
One at a time, tick through your bullet points of what you want to have heard. State the bullet point. Elaborate if you must.
Set a follow up: If they need time to respond or if you want to make sure they take certain steps, propose a circle-up.
“Let’s plan to touch base on this tomorrow afternoon?”
For notes tips, check out this post >> Listen like you mean it.
“Here’s what I captured from our conversation including your action items and my next steps. I welcome your edits and thoughts.”
Repeat! The whole process is a cycle and every conversation is a chance to refine their understanding and continuously reinforce their acknowledgement.
Before the follow up, start by stating the topic again plus the action items you’re expecting to have updated by then.
Sometimes, getting attention and responses from some people can feel like you’re beating your head against a wall.
If you want feedback with how you’re positioning your ideas or just a sounding board of other amazing professional women, you’ve gotta join The Real CREW’s Facebook community. Click here to request access: therealcrewgroup.com
With love, joy & gratitude,