Communication

Get Attention & Be Heard

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.

Here’s how…

Woo Woo-Hoo

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.

Say it

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.

To recap

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)

  1. 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.”

  2. Why does it matter to them? Woo, baby, woo.

    • “You’re gonna love it because it will help relieve ABC and boost your DEF.”

  3. 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?”

  4. One at a time, tick through your bullet points of what you want to have heard. State the bullet point. Elaborate if you must.

  5. 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?”

  6. Send notes.

    • 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.”

  7. Repeat! The whole process is a cycle and every conversation is a chance to refine their understanding and continuously reinforce their acknowledgement.

  8. 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,
Tarah Keech
hello@therealcrew.com

Listening is Hard: Three Ways to Improve Listening Skills

I work with a large number of colleagues who have English as their second language.

Sometimes, to give my eardrums a break, because I work from home, I leave my conference calls on speaker. This past week, my husband passed through and paused, tilted his head and said, “That is a well-educated guy.”

He was right. That’s not new - my husband’s a wicked smart, intuitive guy. He’s usually right about almost everything.

Here’s what’s interesting - the guy he was listening to, speaks English as a second language.

In every meeting, this guy often gets over-talked and is almost always asked to repeat himself a few times during calls. On a regular basis, he has to restate previously made points in follow up emails and redundant meetings. He knows his stuff at an expert level. He’s professional and entirely credible.

But to be HEARD, he has to repeat. ALL.THE.TIME.

Why?

 
 

Because LISTENING is hard.

Why listening skills are difficult

Hearing happens to us. It’s a circumstance.

Listening takes effort. It’s hard. It’s a discipline; a skill that only gets better with practice.

Can listening skills be improved?
Yes, yes they can.

Why listening skills are important

How can listening skills help you? When you listen you gain…  

  • Your time back: You don’t have to ask for repeats.

  • Stress relief: Multitasking is killing your brain and makes us feel like we’re behind.

    Like, right now. How many windows do you have open? Are you on your phone and at work? STOP it. Next time you have the chance to listen - STOP EVERYTHING ELSE and LISTEN.

  • Protect your energy: If needed, when you’re really dialed in and listening, you can get any needed answers or clarification right away instead after-the-fact, without having to waste energy spinning around hypothetical interpretations of partially caught meaning.

  • Results: Want to get more done? Quicker? Better? Tune in to one thing at a time. LISTEN, with your whole self.

BONUS TIP: Sometimes, my four year old acts out for attention (shocking, I know) by increasing her volume or doing behavior that she knows I’ll react to (pull on curtains, push her younger sister, etc.).

When I have the presence of mind to recognize that’s what’s going on, I respond with this amazing little ninja move: “Alright, I can tell you want some attention. Right now, you’ve got both of my eyes and both of my ears.”

Like 95% of the time, this shuts down the inappropriate behavior, gives me the chance to be present with my daughter and experience her moment that she desperately wanted to share.

It’s a beautiful thing, being present with the ones we love. At the end of the day, don’t we all want to be seen and heard?

Which brings me to what you want to know now… How to be HEARD. We’ll be talking about that next week. Meanwhile, drop me a line and let me know what about being HEARD do you have the hardest time with?

How listening skills can be improved

For three ways to LISTEN like you mean it, I created this guide for you >> GET IT HERE.

Now, let’s go exercise those ear muscles!

With love, joy, gratitude and my full attention,

Tarah Keech | hello@therealcrew.com
Join us in our private FB community: therealcrewgroup.com

How to Handle an Over-Sharer

how to handle an oversharer_Blog title.png

One component of my personal whole-self-care approach includes curating my intake of information, including news feeds, movies, what I read, who I follow and who I build relationships with.

We all know we don’t get to control who we work with but we can control who we build relationships with. For the most part in our work roles, we tend to stay in our existing relationship / role lanes. We keep to our tried-and-true, well-worn, familiar routine conversational exchanges.

 
 

So of course, when someone overshares, TMI shatters that routine and can throw a wrench in your day.

Do you tend to attract those kinds of conversations or worse, chronic over-sharers? Sometimes, when people find out that I have a master’s degree in clinical psychology, otherwise professional relationships explode into “share” sessions but looking back, I’ve always felt like a magnet for those types of unsolicited personal life, downloads.

“That’s 10 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.”

Here’s what I’ve learned along the way and a few steps I’ve finessed about how to handle an over-sharer when you don’t want to wreck your professional relationship but you do want to curb the volume of sharing: optimize, respond and redirect.

SECOND-HAND OVERSHARE

#truestory

I work with this guy. He’s kind and helpful and for like 95% of the time, our conversations are relevant and appropriate. Then… he overshares on his personal life and his unedited editorial opinions. He’s scared of losing his job... He should have studied a different major in college... He doesn’t like this person because he had a weird meeting with them on a project 3 years back... This lady didn’t say hello... He doesn’t like excel but really likes JIRA... He’s speculating on leadership decisions and politics... His wife makes fun of him in public... His kids are unappreciative...

It’s that special kind of awkward

…It’s borderline friendship but zero of my business and I don’t feel inclined to build the relationship beyond what it has to be. BUT - I like him and know that he’s being vulnerable with me. I want to honor that AND honor my own boundaries.

OPTIMIZE

This is my headspace: I want to be a safe place. Relationships matter and knowledge is currency - interpersonal (and sometimes even intra-personal!) dynamics can give you rare and powerful insight to otherwise perplexing situations and foresight into potentially blind-siding risk scenarios.

Think of it as a dynamic advantage. The better you know those you work with and for, the more accurately you can predict their responses and tailor your messaging to them in the future. Listen while they share because they’re drawing you a map to their trigger points for motivation and inspiration, for their fears and needs, who matters to them and why - plus, likely a barrage of other intel you may be able to apply going forward. You couldn’t pay someone for that kind of insight!

RESPOND / DON’T RESPOND

Only engage to the degree that you want to maintain the relationship and your reputation.

“That to which you give your energy is an endorsement.” -- Tarah Keech

Pointer #1: Oversharing does not require reciprocation.

For me, listening is way easier than sharing so this has always been intuitive. A good rule of thumb is to share only as much as you want your boss to know. Because they just might hear (be told) what you say. Channel your Miranda rights: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say CAN be used against you.”

No matter what crazy dirt you may have on this other person, you are fully accountable for what you tell them. Once those words are out there, you can be over-heard, quoted or referenced. Only bring your cookies to the picnic if you want to share with everyone in the park.

If you want to curtail their sharing, don’t reciprocate. By not reciprocating, you’re giving them subliminal cues that this line of conversation isn’t really your jam.

Pointer #2: Fact based reflections.

Because you’re a thoughtful, caring human, it’s hard to stop a conversation mid-flow especially if they’re sharing personal details and thoughts.

 
 

But how do you toe the line of tactfully not being a dick? Give succinct reflections only. Keeping it short signals that you’re done talking about it.

  • “I hear you.”

  • “That sounds tough.”

  • “How uncomfortable.”

  • “What a difficult situation.”

  • “That’s quite a story.”

Pointer #3: Stop engaging.

Don’t ask questions about what they just dumped on you. ZERO. Questions show interest and literally invite them to share more. Asking questions proves that you’re paying attention and that you care what they’re saying. So, if you want them to stop talking, stop encouraging it.

 
 

Pointer #4: Pinky promise.

(With the assumption that what’s shared is legal and not harmful…) Honor their trust and keep their confidence. Don’t repeat what you hear to anyone. Don’t say names. Ever. All that does is damage your reputation with the people who hear you. Keep a lid on it.  

REDIRECT

When you need to stop the oversharing flood and get back to business…

Rule: Only respond to the degree that you want to encourage more sharing (remember “energy is endorsement”). For example, I have grown to appreciate my coworker and consider him a work-friend. His sharing is authentic and not a distraction from my work. It’s not detracting from our productivity. But - our relationship is as familiar as it ever needs to be - I certainly don’t want to know more than what he’s already sharing. So, when he initiates a conversation I keep my comments surface-level, I only passively affirm his experience and I don’t ask follow up questions. Then, as soon as there’s a lull, I transition to a work topic.

Go for that awkward segue. If none of the “subtle” signals has landed, pop in to disrupt their stream of consciousness with an awkward transition to a work topic (almost any work topic will suffice): “How about that report?” “When is that project going live?”

It works in almost all overshare situations.

  • Them: I think my marriage is falling apart.

  • You: Wow. That sounds tough. When is that code dropping?

 
 
  • Them: Did you hear about so-and-so and whos-it-whats-it?

  • You: That’s quite a story. Did the client accept that meeting invite for later today?

What I love about this approach is it’s all 100% above board, honest and compassionate while self-respecting. Remember, you get to draw your boundaries and with these practices you help others learn how to respect them.

Got any juicy examples of overshares?

Would you like a sounding board for how to handle your real-life awkward coworkers?

If so, join us in our private Facebook community: therealcrewgroup.com! We’re a group of positive, professional women uplifting and encouraging each other as we live our best lives and careers. We’d love to have you join us!

When’s the last time you received an over-share?

Tell me in the comments below.

With love, joy & gratitude,
Tarah

PS: A refresh of some boundaries basics:

  • You are not responsible for anyone else’s feelings.

  • It’s not your responsibility to fix others.

  • You can say no.

  • You get to choose your friends.

  • You get to choose your thoughts. And because thoughts determine emotions, emotions drive actions, and actions determine results - you get to choose your emotions, actions and results.