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?