Do You Have a Voice at the Table?
According to INC.com, in the world of business, “the meeting” is a critical advancement and decision making unit. Think about that statement and if we hold that as a truth, then if we keep our contributions, our strategies, our visions, our ideas, our solutions, our concerns to ourselves, … how will our colleagues, staff, team, or bosses know our value?
… how will we be seen for career advancement opportunities?
… how or even will we keep being invited to have a seat at the table?
So, I ask you, do you have a voice at the table?
Which really leads me to ask the next two questions:
Are you using your voice at the table?
Is your voice being heard?
Let’s explore these two follow up questions. But first, let’s discuss the overlap.
What does that mean: “Having a Voice at the Table?” It is a hot topic right now. It is an important topic. To me, this comes down to a few key points: advocating for yourself, when you are speaking people are paying attention to what you are saying, you aren’t invisible or ignored.
How do you achieve this?
This brings us back to being able to effectively communicate, confidently and comfortably. Knowing your value and worth and leaning into it and articulating why what you have to say matters. Being able to advocate for yourself and have a voice at the table, at the end of the day comes down to being about effectively communicate, to knowing your why. Your value. Your point. Your convictions.
Which brings us back to the two follow up questions. There are different reasons why your voice isn’t heard. And how we address it varies.
1. Are You Using Your Voice at the Table?
Now I want to remind you, in the paraphrase of Carla Harris, if you are sitting at the table then you were invited to the table. Therefore, someone believes you belong there.
AND guess what, YOU BELONG THERE.
Now that we got that out of the way.
You, however, aren’t convinced you belong there. You are worried you won’t say the right thing. You have great ideas in your head but you are concerned how they will land, so they stay there in your head.
You are not using your voice. You are not using your seat at the table.
I imagine this is what is running through your mind…. Great Idea on Tip of Tongue--
BUT WHAT IF:
-They don’t let me finish
-They don’t like it
-They think it’s stupid
-It’s shot down
>And so on with the negative thought pattern...
Can we say, HELLO Inner Critic! Your inner critic is in full control in this situation. We need to take the power away from the Inner Critic. Your Inner Critic is NOT serving you.
Try imagining this-- Great Idea is on the Tip of your Tongue and your Inner Leader in in Control!
The thought process running through your mind is now:
-They like your idea
-They think - would we could really implement that
-Hey that’s a great start, lets build from there
-Along that line of thinking …
-Well I’m not sure that would work exactly but that makes me realize that it wouldn’t work this way either and we need to think about X…
> WHAT IF YOU THRIVE AND SHINE….
HELLO using your voice at the table! Being heard and successfully communicating. Don’t write the ending of the story before the beginning even happens. Especially when you are writing a negative ending. You have value. You are in this meeting, part of this organization because you have a skillset that is needed. Your thoughts, strategies, visions, concerns, questions, and ideas are needed, worthy and want to be heard.
Part of having our voice heard is using it. Speaking it. Taking the courageous step to speak your voice with confidence. This can be quite overwhelming, scary even. Remember, that everyone there is human too. Not all the ideas shared are going to be implemented but being engaged and involved shows your value. Lean into the seat and share. Use your voice so it can be heard.
2. Is Your Voice Being Heard?
Now this is a different question and problem people face when sitting at the table. If you are showing up and speaking up yet you feel you are consistency being interrupted, ignored or glossed over, then we need to find ways to ensure you message is getting received properly and you are being heard.
Before I suggest some tips for getting your voice heard and asserting yourself, I want to circle back to effective communication. Part of effectively communicating is paying attention to verbal and non verbal cues, so when you are in a meeting or room, pay attention to the body language around you.
There is so much miscommunications that takes place and people do not even realize it. People are talking at each other or over each other instead of with each other. Pay attention to when you are talking, are people receiving your message? Does the look on their face look like they understand? Do check ins? Make sure you are on the same page. This will help.
Also, being a good communicator means being a good active listener.
Don’t just sit in the room and present, show up and be engaged. Listen. Pay attention.
Ask questions, add relevant continuations to thoughts. Be Relevant. This will better position you when you speak to your own topics and thoughts.
TIPS & TRICKS FOR GETTING YOUR VOICE HEARD:
-->Sit in the power seat at the table - on the long side in the middle facing the door
-->Speak in shorter sentences - be concise. Have notes.
-->If you are interrupted, you can respectfully and politely, interrupt back:
(Unless someone is asking for clarification, this is acceptable)
Say - Please hold on, I am not finished yet OR Excuse me, please let me finish my thought and then it will be your turn to speak
-->You can get feedback on your meeting style and Cultivate Allies:
- If you find that you are always being talked over or not being heard effectively you could ask a trusted ally at work for feedback of your tone at meetings.
- If you are concerned how something will go over at an upcoming meeting you could share the presentation ahead with a few trusted colleagues and ask for feedback. Tweak as needed and have support team at the table.
-->Take Credit (harder to do)
If something you recently suggested was glossed over and then comes up by someone else and is cheered or accepted. You can carefully call it out. Resist the urge to let it slide. Maybe say - Great point, I am glad to see we are moving in that direction, as I had recently suggested a similar idea X ago and it wasn’t well received. I am curious what has changed.
Note: you are not trying to steal thunder from someone else or accuse someone of taking your idea. What you are doing here is pointing out that this is not the first time an idea of this nature has been suggested and previously the team was not in favor of it. What is different this go around. This does two things-- it makes them aware that it isn’t a novel concept and it reminds them that it wasn’t always something everyone was enthusiastic about - is this still something we want to consider.
-->When Speaking - make direct eye contact and literally lean in to the table-- literally
-->Let them see your expertise. Share your value. Sometimes this input could be more or different than the role you were hired for. Fill a hole where you see it. Make yourself invaluable and indispensable.
-->Get on the agenda - this guarantees you getting talk time
-->Speak up for others -- I agree with X
- I see how this could work…
- I am curious how this could be implemented
-This could also benefit …..
-If you see how this won’t work, delicately word but speak up-
>SAY - I see you point but have you considered how this would impact
…. Or have we consulted with the technology department to determine feasibility?
When you find that your voice isn’t being heard not just at the table but at one-on-one meetings as well, you may need to be more assertive. This taps into your owning your value. Knowing your professional story and being able to confidently and effectively communicate your worth. Advocating for yourself is positive trait and good thing. Although, not always an easy thing to do. It starts with believing in yourself. Remember, you were hired because you have the skill set (hard and soft) to do this position the best. You have something to contribute. They want and need your input, they just need to be reminded how much. Through the art of articulation you can show they your value and how much benefit you offer.
> When you continuously get non-committal responses to an idea or suggestions, instead of just accepting their responses, try responding with:
- Do you think this could work?
- Do you see this issue being an issue if we take this approach? Or do you think taking this approach will resolve this issue?
- What steps do I need to take to get this implemented?
==>THESE type of follow up questions are harder to be ignored.
> Use assertive statements not watered down ones.
- Instead of - I was sort of hoping that you would…
- USE: Could You/Would you…
> Don’t start your statements with apologies:
- Stand by your convictions even if you are disagreeing with the group. Just do it respectfully and have reasons why you support your decisions.
> When chiming in start with : I’d like to say | Can I add…
> If you are disagreeing, you don’t want to put people on the defensive so try not to start with no offense but or I disagree--
- TRY: I wonder if we might consider…
- I see it differently because
- I agree to a point but then I have some doubts or concern about…
You have a seat use it! You matter! You have influence and power more than you might realize to take advantage of that. Again, all of this comes down to being able to effectively communicate. To believing in yourself and your value. And leaning into your worth.
Owning your Worth is taking a courageous step of intention that will lead you to great things. Who is with me?
Have questions? Need support? Comment here on the blog. Or directly reach out to me at email@example.com.
I am Romy Weiss, a Career Transitions & Certified Professional Coach. I am a mompreneur, I have three kids, a dog and a husband. We live in Maine. And fun facts- each of my children were born in a different state. I love coffee, chocolate and red wine. My superpowers include creative problem-solving; being able to organize and thrive in chaos and effective communication. Oh, and I'm obsessed with elephants. I believe they are good luck. My grandmother instilled my love for them and they bring balance to the world.
As your NextSteps Coach, I enable, guide and empower adults who are overloaded and overwhelmed and at a career crossroads to change, reinvent, return to or advance their careers so they can find work/life balance and achieve their desired success. I teach tools and provide resources. I truly believe you should love what you do and do what you love. And yes you can do this at any age, as I reinvented my career in my 40s and you can too! I will partner with you to show you - you have transferable skills that are hireable and marketable and will bring value to another company, industry or career. I hold you accountable for your dreams and your goals and help you take the actionable steps to get there. I work with clients 1:1 and in hybrid coaching programs. All in live (virtual) settings so geography is never a barrier. My clients are getting noticed, being offered interviews, landing their dream careers and advancing them too. And they are confidently, comfortably and effectively communicating their story. I get you. I see you. I believe in you. Curious to learn more: https://yournextstepscoach.com
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