I have a client who runs a business and has two people working in his main office. They weren't answering the phones with the level of energy that he considered representative and efficient. He had frequently asked them to change their behavior, but he didn't seem to get through to them. Sound familiar?

This week we answer the question “How do you want to be heard?” There are two key points in getting heard: Motivation and Clarity. More about that later.

First, I'll give you a couple of reasons why communication doesn't always land:

  1. You're not convinced yourself that your message is important enough to be heard. That will lead you to present your message with a lack of conviction and clarity, and create fuzzy communication. To prevent this, you can prepare the delivery of your message to be more clear and convincing.
  2. The receivers don't think your message is important enough. It could be that they are not interested in the subject, or think that you don't have enough expertise about the subject. If they're not interested in the topic, you should first find out if you're speaking to the right people. If that's the case, ask what it is they are interested in and find a way of placing your message in that context. If there is indeed a gap in expertise, you can overcome that gap by putting your message in the context of research, or quotes by people who have that expertise. Another way is to bring in experts to support your message.
  3. The receivers have something on their mind that's more important to them. Very often we're speaking to people who are listening to something else: their own thoughts. Make eye contact when you are speaking to them. If you see any body language signaling that they're drifting off, check in on them by simply asking “Any questions? Is this clear so far?”
  4. Your message is important to the receivers, but unappealing. Especially when we're delivering unhappy news, we have to be wary of people drifting in and out of attentiveness.

If these blocks are out of the way, it's all about the key points in getting heard:

  1. Motivation. People in general are motivated by money, learning, exploring new and exiting opportunities, growth opportunities and a sense of connectedness through a purpose. If you notice that people aren't motivated to follow your lead, see if you can create a shared goal in alignment with any of these points.
  2. Clarity. In the case of my client, there was also a lack of clarity. He wasn't clear about what kind of questions he wanted his staff to ask, information they had to convey, or needs they should be listening for. Clarity can be provided verbally, but also in the form of writing or graphics. This client wrote a few scripted lines that did wonders for his employees.

For this week I invite you to be listening and also communicating with great clarity. This will cause anything you want to occur that involves other people. If you're having trouble with communicating to a particular person, you're welcome to send me an e-mail or give me a phone call so we can find a custom made solution.

Special thanks to Frank Brasser for contributing ideas on this subject.

Author's Bio: 

Jonathan Flaks, M.C.C., Business Success Coach - http://www.jfcoach.com. Since 1998, Jonathan has been helping entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals focus on and reach ambitious goals, maintain continuous confidence and motivation, and achieve balanced success. Jonathan maintains a Master Certified Coach distinction from the International Coach Federation. He earned a dual degree from Cornell University and was Adjunct Professor in Business Leadership and Coaching Skills for New York University. Clients have come from BMG Entertainment, Morgan-Stanley-Smith-Barney, KPMG, Disney, Deloitte, Honeywell, Goldman Sachs, and many entrepreneurial and professional service firms. If you want to start every week with a positive, confident attitude, visit Monday Morning Mini-Motivation Meetings.