You Want to be Heard?

There is no responsibility in speaking. Anyone can do it, it requires no special skills other than learning a language. There are a myriad of possible ways things can go once you’ve spoken.

Being heard is an entirely different story. If what you’re committed to is being heard, you want a 100% clean interaction. What you are giving is what has been received and that’s it and it is the speaker’s responsibility if that intention is his or her goal. Again today I did not take responsibility for being heard. I’m working on it, too.

To ensure being heard, we need to get behind the reality (interpretations, based on their own personal experiences) that other people bring to the table. It also takes an understanding of what we are bringing in addition to our intention (imbedded reactions and emotions, mostly), because your listener may get taken out by something other than your intention that is present in your communication, verbally, through body language, tone or way of being.

Here’s what I mean. If you are committed to being heard, if you have chosen that your sole intention is to make a contribution to another or to vent or to share or to brainstorm, unless it is made explicitly clear, the listener could hear it as something completely different. Contributions are often heard as criticism, venting is often heard as blame, sharing is often heard as a request for someone to do something about what has come up and on and on. If you want to have more than one intention met, then separate them for yourself and introduce them separately.

If you want it to come off as how you intend it, consider making it clear at the outset. Let the listener know that you noticed something about them that you wanted to share with them and find out if they are open to hearing it, let them know you just want them to listen to you vent. Even then, it is likely that your intention will be misconstrued, because we hold fast to our reactions and emotional triggers, so if we want to be heard, we can check in, by asking questions like, “How did that occur to you?” and then showing understanding that they could see it that way.

We also frequently bring our upset to other people, we want them to know that we are upset with something they did and we also think we are trying to help them. The thing is, it’s more likely than not that the listener will respond to the upset and get triggered themselves. The value of what you were trying to bring is then lost.

I understand completely that what Im suggesting is hard work, but if you want to be heard, these are some things to consider. People’s listening is what it is. They may reliably look for the threat in other’s words, tone and way of being. We can’t fix or change that unless they see for themselves that it’s getting in the way. As speakers, we take people for where they are and be responsible for our reactions and emotions or we deal with the dissonance and not meeting the goal we set out on by choosing to speak in the first place.

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