We’ve all been situations where colleagues, clients or associates play the Status Game and try to make you feel inferior by elevating their status. Presentation coach Simon de Cintra, author of Unlock Your Business Voice: How to Sound As Good As You Think, reveals how to keep the conversation on a level playing field to avoid being undermined.
Does it seem like other people always get their ideas in before you have a chance to speak, or that your nerves get the better of you as soon as you try and open your mouth? Do you frequently notice that those who do stand up and command the authority from an audience have, in fact, very little to say or that their thoughts are not the most original nor insightful? If this seems familiar, you need to re-establish your position and credibility at work by unlocking your ‘Business Voice’. Try following “My Business VOICE Methodology” a practical 5 step process to help you assert your authority in the workplace.
STEP ONE: Vocation
You’re much more likely to invest time and effort in the process once you accept that being understood by others, is more important than being the expert in your own head. At the risk of being controversial, the ability to persuade others is over-rated in today’s world of work. This might contradict everything you have been told, especially if you have ever attended a training course on “How to Persuade Others”. This point has nothing to do with the legitimacy of being able to convince your colleagues, yet has plenty to do with not making that your sole aim or preoccupation. Remember to concentrate on knowing what is useful for them to get from you and make it your job to be easy to listen to and finally be present with them as they react to what you are telling them.
STEP TWO: Observe
Observing others who have mastered the Status Game and watching their tips and tricks to achieve this could be very helpful in achieving authority for yourself! Throughout our lives we learn the majority of what we know through observation and this is definitely the case for earning respect in the competitive business world.
STEP THREE: Intention
Intention is a key driving factor of level playing two-way communication, without it your message and often your respect from colleagues is lost. Words unfortunately will not convey your message unaided. Being able to spot how someone’s voice and body mismatch their communication content is a considerable advantage. It is easy to unintentionally give the wrong impression by focusing too much on the words you are about to say and neglecting your feelings, values and beliefs behind the message. This can significant hinder delivery and subsequently lose your authority, giving someone else the power to lead the conversation. Before speaking you must establish what you want to communicate and the most effective non-verbal communicative tools needed from body language, facial expressions, eye contact and even your tone of voice.
STEP FOUR: Casting
TED talks for example are, of course, truly inspirational and well worth watching, especially if you want to learn how accomplished speakers establish their authority and hook their audience. However, have you noticed that all great speakers have a clear sense of who they are, although you will find very different styles of delivery that come with different personalities? That is why it is paramount to adjust your communication style but not your personality. Communicating as your authentic “best self” is much more comfortable for you and for the receiver and will earn you respect, preventing you from being undermined.
STEP FIVE: Experiment
Like perfecting any skill gaining authority through your communication style will require an element of trial and error. Do not be afraid to make mistakes just ensure you learn from them, pick yourself up and move on. If you feel someone is undermining in a conversation trial different types of responses to determine which is the best way for you to stop this in its tracks.
Here’s how to win authority and respect in a nutshell
Picture in your mind an ancient wooden framed hourglass. When turning an hourglass over, the sand will calmly and steadily flow from the top bulb into the bottom. As it is empties the sand’s flow rate will steadily increase until the final grains arrive, and eventually the bottom bulb will be fun and ready to run. If you adapt this method when preparing for a presentation for example and build gradually what you want to say, for example when preparing for a presentation, one grain at a time to reach your conclusion represented by the grains now sitting at the top of the pile in the bottom bulb.
To earn respect and authority, you need to turn the hourglass once more to unlock your business voice. This will enable the first grains of sand to pass through the constriction and be received by the now empty and receptive chamber below, these grains were the last ones that arrived when you were formulating the content.
Essentially, this is the opposite of how we are told to write up science experiments at school, you start by disclosing your results and conclusions when trying to establish authority in a presentation. Introducing what you need to say with your conclusion/results will importantly buy you their sought after precious listening time as people feel most at ease with this when receiving information.
Simon de Cintra, author of Unlock Your Business Voice: How to Sound As Good As You Think (£12.99, Rethink Press)