Getting Heard

3 minute read

Matt was frustrated…really frustrated, and it was showing. His usual even-tempered demeanor was absent as he shared details about new production testing and how things were getting off course really fast. Matt’s team member, Will, had been working with new equipment and had already messed up two product runs because he was adjusting equipment during production. Each of these failed runs scrapped $50-$75k of material. Matt said, “I told him not to touch anything! Then he did anyway, and he screwed up the first run. So, I said it again, and then the same damn thing happened with the second run!”  

While it’s easy to point the finger solely at Will, I wanted to help Matt think differently about how he was getting heard.

As we broke the situation down, Matt shared that in this case, he’d been speaking to Will in his normal calm demeanor, even though this was a big deal. While Matt felt the pressure for this to go well, he didn’t relay any of that to Will (who was operating from Autopilot), since nothing seemed different than any other day.  

As Matt spoke, he leaned in and forcefully said, “I just wanted him to keep his hands off the F-ing machine.” This language was very unusual for Matt. I encouraged him to say exactly that to Will and to keep the same intensity. I promised Matt that he wasn’t being unprofessional. Will was asleep at the switch, and Matt was going to verbally wake him up.

He was taking steps to get heard.

He was going to change his part so Will could hear him differently.  

He was adding intensity and different language, so Will would really pay attention.

There are lots of ways to do this, and a good rule of thumb is to switch your dominant pattern. I have a lot of energy and tend to talk fast and loud. So, when I slow down and whisper, people tend to really listen. I’ve changed my part and am working to help the other person really pay attention.

Matt tended to be quiet and calm. When he got a bit intense and dropped an F-bomb, it really got people’s attention. Will heard him loud and clear and didn’t touch the equipment. Future tests for the new production process went much better.

Message sent. And, message received.

If the people you’re interacting with don’t seem to hear what you’re really saying, you still have options for how you exercise healthy control over your part of the interaction. Don’t just throw up your hands and say, “They aren’t listening!” Change up what you say and/or HOW you say it.

Sometimes it just takes doing something different, so others can really hear what we’re saying.

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Wingspan partners with leaders around the world to strengthen their behavioral performance and communication. Our approach centers on creating more intentional outcomes by developing healthy behavior systems, more productive interactions, and more meaningful relationships.