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Waiting for the invitation that will never come?

adorable-15949_640You’re in a meeting. You know for the sake of your profile and reputation, you should make a contribution – you know, actually say something.

Problem is, no one stops long enough for you to get a word in. You may be like me, a cut to the chase person. Frustration grows as people keep repeating the same point -some probably just to hear their own voices. You continue in your silence vowing not to add to the time-wasting digression.

Two voices in your head battle it out.  One voice says ‘Don’t leave this room without saying anything because it will not look good.’ The other voice says, ‘Don’t say a word to add to this circular conversation -going nowhere -that could have been resolved 15 minutes ago.’  Why is it so easy for some to get their point across while others of us can’t seem to find that open window of opportunity? Or more to the point–open it for ourselves.

My very unscientific conclusion is that often without realising it- some of us are waiting for an invitation-or permission  to speak. We wait for someone to ask us our opinion or for the talking to stop long enough so we can speak without cutting someone else off.

This challenge is not limited to professional situations.

What can help clear the  waiting for an invitation  mindset?

Check your self talk  Sometimes we hesitate to speak or enter a conversation because we don’t have confidence in our views, we may fear disapproval or may be concerned that the group does not perceive us as an equal member with the formal or informal authority to speak. In most cases this is perception and not reality. What ever you say to yourself after you say ‘I am’ is what becomes reality.

Develop the art of confident and respectful interruption Before you go to a meeting or a class where class participation is expected, plan a few scripts of phrases that you could use to enter the conversation. Remember to use a confident tone and assertive statements like ‘I have a suggestion’, or ‘I have a question which may seem very basic.’  Or if you want to soften your interruption a bit, say ‘I’d like to make a suggestion’ or ‘I’d like to ask a question that may sound very basic’. Remember it is as much about the tone as it is the words. Avoid ‘Can I just interrupt for a minute?’ which sounds more like a permission question than a confident statement.

Develop a healthy interpretation of rejection or disagreement  Sometimes we hold back for fear of not being able to handle the situation when someone disagrees with us or strongly rejects what we say. Remind yourself that regardless of tone, language or apparent motive, a person’s rejection or strong challenge to what you say does not diminish who you are and your worth.  They are responding to your words and ideas.  If a person’s motive is to undermine you, they are hurting their reputation more than yours.

Use your successes to build a toolkit of strategies to kill the invitation idea (unless it is court or Parliament where you do have to wait to be called upon!) and become an active, confident contributor in the midst of non stop chatter.

What are your thoughts and experiences in these situations?

Published inBlogFearless LivingUncategorized

8 Comments

  1. I agree with what you say here Linda. This phrase got me thinking: ‘I’d like to ask a question which may seem basic’ seemed to be putting oneself down, as if the question is not worthy of their time. I tend to use language like this a lot in my professional correspondence, and I’m trying to find better ways of communicating without making myself sound uncertain or lacking confidence. Just my two cents… you see what I did there? 😉

    • Linda Chaousis Linda Chaousis

      Shelly that is such a good point. I put that phrase in there for people who would find it very hard to make the leap from saying nothing to a strong declaration. It is at least a statement rather than a question, but I agree with you, it is not the ideal and still sounds a bit unconfident, although if you are speaking rather than writing, a firm tone can change how it comes across. Two examples come to mind. One is where I wanted to express interest to teach a development program that a virtually world renowned person was supposed to teach but had to cancel last minute. It was in an area of my expertise even though I did not have all the qualifications and awards that some people expect. I started to write ‘I’m not sure of the protocol of a contract worker putting their name forth’..and changed it to ‘I’m unfamiliar with the protocol for contractors to express an interest in xxx talks’. And I got the gig and got great reviews. In my coaching, I often find people use phrases like ‘I’d appreciate it if’..and I suggest ‘I expect….’ and aim to use as many statements as possible instead of questions. I did see what you did–well done 🙂

      • Ooh I like that, ‘I’m unfamiliar’ instead of ‘I’m unsure’. I will have to remember that one. I think one of the biggest hurdles is actually being aware that we’re doing it. Once we’ve got it on our radar that it’s something we tend to do, we can actively work to change our language so it works to our benefit and not to our detriment.

        Glad to see you blogging again Linda. I’m looking forward to reading more!

        • Linda Chaousis Linda Chaousis

          Thanks Shelly. I’m also enjoying your blogs and really miss FNQ. Can’t wait to get back there sometime. Still have webinars on back burner. Making lots of changes at the moment.

  2. Ruth Ruth

    Hi Linda, I’m taking your advice by commenting rather than just lurking!

    I’ve found that intervening toward the end of a “round and round” discussion as a voice of reason can be useful. “A solution might be….” or “Perhaps if we …” are lead-in phrases which I’ve found can move the whole group to a different way of solving a problem that’s been talked around for a while and have everyone feel they are part of the solution. I do find that this is often easier when its an issue I don’t have as much direct investment in. Coming from a little “outside” can often bring a useful alternative perspective. And I find that speaking less often but more sense means that when I do speak I’m likely to have the floor!

    • Linda Chaousis Linda Chaousis

      Great insight Ruth. I am going to write a blog on introverts and conversation and also the types of things one can use as ‘scripts’. I agree that if someone speaks less often they often have more impact. In class last year, I shared a quote that said ‘there is absolutely NO correlation between who talks the most and the value of what is said.’ Looking forward to your next blog post as well!

  3. its like you can read my subconscious! Thank you wise one, thank you x

    • Linda Chaousis Linda Chaousis

      Thanks Louisa. What is funny is that when I wrote it, I thought it was possible that people would think ‘OMG Linda, you are so weird! No one does that!!’ But I figured I’d put it out there..:)

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