A life of influence starts with getting your ideas noticed. And getting noticed in a crowd isn’t always about ego or pride – many times it’s about helping other people or opening their eyes to new ideas and possibilities. Chances are, you can contribute insights, experience, or creativity to a conversation, but may be uncomfortable with how much to push yourself. Especially if you’re with people who you respect, or are more experienced or well known than you, what are the secrets for sharing your ideas in a way that will not only be appreciated, but valued? Here’s a few things to remember:
1. Listen first – talk later. A few weeks ago I was speaking at a leadership conference in Florida. During breakfast at my hotel I sat next to a table of four people, and for nearly an hour, one person at that table totally dominated the conversation. He interrupted people, spoke in a louder voice, and guess what? All he talked about was him. Based on their expressions, the other three will never invite him to breakfast again. Don’t ever be that guy.
2. Bring value to the conversation. When you do speak, make sure you’re adding something, not just repeating what others have said. Can you offer a new perspective? A creative idea? Something no one else in the group has considered? That starts with simply paying attention.
3. Speak from a deeper well. What are you reading these days? What teaching are you following? Are you drawing ideas from the great thinkers in history, or a story you saw yesterday in People magazine? Start today blocking out time to read, learn, and grow. When you start offering ideas worth listening to, people will start paying attention.
4. Learn to really listen. Too many people in a group don’t actually listen to the other people – they just think about what they’re going to say next. They want to impress, not participate. As a result, they don’t stay in the flow of conversation, and pop in with awkward or inappropriate statements. Don’t get frustrated that people don’t pay attention to you, if you’re not paying attention to them.
5. Finally, it’s not about you. If you want other’s respect, become interested in them. It’s not your brilliance, your exploits, or your ideas that will win them over – it’s your genuine concern about their situation and the challenges they face. Once you make that connection, you’ve won their hearts and they’ll be more than willing to hear anything you have to share.