Listen, Learn, and Engage… (aka Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace)

“Les Miserables” author Victor Hugo wrote, “Not being heard is no reason to be silent.”  Yet, it’s confronting at times to engage in a meeting when you’re not sure how your idea will be received. I’ve found over the years that it’s more important to voice your idea/recommendation than it is to hold back on it.

A great client of mine insists that his team put forth their ideas as often as possible. His belief is that through a respectful, vigorous dialogue/debate great things occur. I agree!

I was coaching a technology executive recently who was complaining that his board didn’t understand the direction he needed to steer his company in. To him, the board just didn’t get what was so obvious to him.

I then videotaped him presenting his board recommendations. I played the videotape back and asked him what he thought of his delivery.

He hesitated. Then I took a deep breath and stepped in with my game-changing idea. I said to him, “I know you mean well…you just can’t sell it.”

He calmed down and said “you’re the first person who’s ever given me this type of feedback. To that I said, “Let’s tailor your recommendations to your board’s goals and challenges. We’ll see if the communication becomes clearer and more on point.”

We did, and the board understood my client’s direction!

Presenting a controversial, paradigm-changing idea fosters a heightened/lifted conversation, playing it safe in the discussion doesn’t. What is mission critical though is that your idea/game-changing recommendation is tailored to your audience.