Six Polite Ways to Make Yourself Heard and Understood
A crying baby gets the milk, say pushy people. You will get what you deserve, whether you cry aloud or keep calm, say philosophers. Anyway, all of us have our share of opinions, view points, ideas, complaints and rants that we want others hear and understand.
Depending on our basic nature, circumstances and the urgency, we may resort to many methods of communication to drive home our views, like shouting, crying, gesturing, throwing up tantrums and so on. At times, we may get heard; at times our basic tactics may put the other person off and he may shut his ears to whatever we say.
Taking short term emotional bursts away, the chances of getting your views heard sympathetically are much better when you are calm, polite and composed. Here we shall discuss five polite ways to make yourself heard and understood in a meeting or in a group.
1) Start with appreciating another person's view points
"I think what Mr A has suggested now has some very good points. I would like to add a few more of mine to it.....". This way, you are complementing a person for his contribution and create a positive mood for others to hear you.
2) Start by recognizing others' genuine concerns before giving your objections
"Yes; what Miss B says as the likely negative impact on customers' receptivity to the proposed new pricing is something we cannot ignore; but we should not forget that this price increase is being brought after 2 years and even with this increase, our product will continue to be cheaper than our main competitor....". This way, you are not brushing aside another person's view point outwardly, but you are emphasizing what is right.
3) Instead of saying "it will not work" say "it will work, provided..."
"Doubling of the sales target for the coming year is definitely a big task that every sales person should eagerly take as a challenge; but in reality, the total market demand for this product line is nearing saturation already in the domestic market; what we should perhaps look into is investing heavily in the sales promotion for the export market and creating a costly infrastructure for it". This way, you are hinting at the impracticability of doubling the target and also the need for investment in unplanned areas.
4) Intervene with a joke
This method will be quite effective if there are heated arguments taking place in the meeting, the tension becomes rather unbearable and things are getting out of hand. It requires a higher degree of levelheadedness and good spontaneity to intervene and cool the temperature with a humorous remark; the humor should be appropriate and should not end up hurting someone. Once the tensions come down, it is easier for you to communicate your ideas in a calm way.
5) Seek a private meeting
If the atmosphere in the meeting has created any antagonism against your opinion, you can suggest to the key person to whom you want to convey your genuine concerns and ideas that you would like to have a one-to-one meeting with him when he is relatively free so that you can present your views afresh for a reconsideration. You can say "The majority opinion may not be favorable to what I have suggested; but I have a conviction that what I have suggested has some validity; I would request you to give me one more chance to explain it to you in private; then you can reject my idea; no problem"
6) Put it in writing
If none of the above tactics work and if you really feel that your view points that are ignored are extremely important for the good of the organization, then put forth your points clearly in writing with necessary supportive documents to all key decision makers including those 1 step higher in the management ladder.
It is true that most people won't bother to read it! But seeing a copy addressed to a higher boss will make some of them jittery and they may show the tendency to read what you have sent at least from the point of view of making a defense for their decision. If your arguments are valid and just, it is quite likely that there could be a review, thrust upon by the higher boss.
What we have discussed above are applicable in a meeting or in a group discussion. We may have to adopt some of the above tactics as well as more additional strategies if we want us to be heard and understood in a one-to-one meeting with somebody.