How to Be Heard
Soon after becoming a Christian I joined a couples Bible study with my wife. One night I had what (I thought) was a terrific insight, but I figured nobody would be interested because, after all, I was a baby.
So, I said, “As Billy Graham said…” and then proceeded to give them my thought. After everyone nodded approvingly, I said, “Actually, Billy Graham didn’t say that but I didn’t think you would want to hear it if it was just from me.”
It IS hard to be heard. There is a LOT of competition for people’s attention. And people are suspicious of the new guy. Since that night I have put together…well, let’s call it a “philosophy of being heard.”
First, there is no greater loss than the right advice given at the wrong moment. So, develop a sense of occasion. Know when the moment is right. Better yet, elevate the moment by saying something like, “You know, I’ve been thinking about that for several years and have a considered opinion. If you’re interested I’d be happy to share what I’ve learned with you.” Or, “I have something important I’d like to talk to you about. Can we meet next Tuesday afternoon for a few minutes?”
Second, it can be taken as a general rule that if your opinion is not requested, that’s because it isn’t wanted. I try (not always successfully!) to not offer advice unless I first determine that it’s wanted.
Third, most people want encouragement, not advice. I’ve spent a lot of time dwelling on the difference. Thinking about this difference was a good use of time….I recommend it!
Fourth, do your homework. If you hit me with your opinion, you should know that I think my opinions are just as good as yours. Instead, hit me with facts. I’ve learned that well researched facts and statistics capture attention quickly. If you speak with this kind of authority, people will listen.
Fifth, have something to say, and say it well. If you don’t have something to say but say it anyway, you’ll get a reputation as someone who talks too much. Also, learn how to speak without audible pauses. Toastmasters can help.
Sixth, Francis Schaeffer once said, “If you do your work well, you will have a chance to speak.” Enough said.
Finally, nobody cares what you don’t like and, the older you get, the more negative you come off when you express negative opinions. As the old saying goes, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
Oh, and a nice smile really helps a lot.
Together in the Battle for Men’s Souls,