Is Anyone Listening When You Speak?
Have you ever wondered if anyone is listening when you speak? Or if what you say gets through to people? It all comes down to trust. And that’s what today’s newsletter is all about.
“I wish I knew that my words were sinking in when I give these speeches,” my client Anne said on one of our recent coaching calls.
I nodded in agreement. And then shared the following anecdote:
When my nephew Andrew was born, I held him for the first time just hours after he entered this world. He was wrapped in a blanket, lips puckering. As I stared at his cuteness, a warm wave of unconditional love enveloped me like a warm towel after a dip in the early summer ocean (at least in the Northeast!).
In that moment, I vowed to be the best aunt ever.
Over the years my husband and I did what we could to make that happen.
- Weekend sleepovers complete with movies, games and camping in the backyard under the stars.
- Teaching him how to boogie board.
- Teaching him how to sail.
- Taking him to concerts.
One activity, though, became “our thing.” Especially when he’d sleep over. The three of us went to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant called El Sarape. My nephew always ordered the Enchiladas Verdes, 3 chicken filled corn tortillas smothered in green tomatillo sauce and melted cheese, complete with a side of rice and beans.
He’d eat the rice, beans and two of the enchiladas and bring the third one back to the house. Back at the house we’d settle in to watch a movie. Within minutes Andrew would say, “I’m hungry. I think I’ll eat that last enchilada.”
The first time we thought it was no big deal. Then it became a “thing” Andrew did.
Over the years I never though much about it, except that it was funny.
Do Our Words Matter?
What DID I think about over the years?
- Whether or not my words and actions were sinking in.
- Was I making a difference?
- Did he know how much we love him?
- Does any of it matter?
This July Andrew turns 17. In September he’ll start his senior year of high school which means he’s entered a life phase where he wants nothing to do with hanging out with his aunt (unless, of course, it’s at El Sarape).
Earlier this spring he told me that he took his friend Lou to El Sarape. “You came down here and didn’t call me!” I said.
He rolled his eyes and kept talking. “I even taught him that thing. You know to take one of your enchiladas home and save it for later.”
And in that moment I knew it mattered. All of it.
Now, Andrew didn’t explicitly say, “Thanks Auntie Stacey, our time mattered.” Instead, I had to trust that our time together mattered based on what he said that day.
“And so do you,” I told Anne.
Anne nodded in agreement.
Yes, What You Say Matters
Whether you’re speaking to a large audience, leading a team of people, networking with strangers, coaching or consulting with clients or spending time with family, you may not always know – right away or ever – if they’re listening. You’re left wondering, “Does what I say matter?” “Do I matter?”
Yes it matters (and it can matter in a good way or a negative one. So choose words wisely.)
I’ve gotten phone calls 3 years after a speaking engagement from people who said, “I saw you speak and now I’m ready.” Sometimes, I don’t even remember the event they are talking about.
Regardless, I have to trust that whatever I said mattered and that people were listening.
And so do you.
Your Turn to Talk to Me
- Have you ever vowed to be the best aunt or uncle ever?
- What makes you the best?
- How can you ensure that people listen when you speak?
Your voice matters. Keep shining.
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About the blog
Insights & inspiration to make human interactions like speaking, networking, facilitating less awkward & boring and more natural & engaging.
Topics include presence, getting your message across, relationship building, staying poised under pressure, running a meeting, dealing with burnout and more.
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