Stop Shouting into the Wind

Photo credit: suneko

You do incredibly important work.  Your community would suffer without you.  And yet it seems like most people know nothing about you.  You write press release after press release, hold meeting after meeting, tweet about every event–to little or no avail.  It seems impossible to shout any louder.

The situation is frustrating, because the people that do know you, love you, so it stands to reason if you could reach others they would love you too; and reaching them is so important.  By reaching those people you could grow.  More supporters means more volunteers, more donors, more audience members and more clients.  And all of that means you spend more time fulfilling your mission and  less time wondering how you will keep the lights on.

I know it seems shouting louder in bigger venues with more people should help, but it doesn’t.  The problem is, all of those people are shouting too–and it’s very hard to hear others when you are shouting.

Luckily, some of the other shouters are just the people you are trying to reach.  If you stop shouting and listen for a minute you will find them.  Then, rather than shouting your message to them, really hear what they are saying.  Answer their questions, offer your support.  When it’s appropriate, let them know how your organization can help solve their problem.  I promise, it won’t take too many conversations like that one before other people start shouting on your behalf.

The idea of a  large room with people shouting is (mostly) a metaphor.   In reality, the key is to find the places the people you want to reach hang out (on-line and off) and go listen to them there.

The purpose of Low Hanging Fruit  is to help you find those places,  teach you how to recognize your people, and how to listen well.  We will also spend time focused on how to best respond to your people’s questions and needs and how to craft your own messages using language and tools that will make it easy for them to hear you.  Many of these resources will show up here on the blog but if you don’t want to miss anything, be sure to sign up for e-mail updates.  Just enter your e-mail address and click the “sign me up” button in the right sidebar.  Then the new stuff will be delivered to your e-mail box as soon as it is available.

Enough about me, tell me about you

Being heard is a lot about listening, but it’s also about being ready to talk about yourself clearly and in a compelling way–especially when invited to do so.  So here is your invitation.

Use the comment section to tell us about your organization, what makes it great, how you are saving the world or making it more livable, and what you need to do your work better.  Can’t wait to hear all about you!

6 thoughts on “Stop Shouting into the Wind

  1. I have to admit I have been quite busy saving the world! 🙂

    I agree with your point about shouting. I have a habit of repeating until I get a response… and then I hear “I heard you the first time I was just thinking about what you said…”

    Sometimes it’s best to put your message out and give it time to sink in before putting it out again and, perhaps a little louder the second time!

    And consider your voice…the words, the tone.

    Finally, listening is one of the greatest skills you can learn…when you listen you actually engage.

    Thanks for raising the issue, Maureen.

    • Thanks Yolanda–you are absolutely right about giving people time for the message to sink in.

      In addition to that, I am suggesting something more radical. Listen to your people before you talk. Try not entering the conversation with an agenda. Go where your people are and listen to what they have to say. Then form a response.

      When you are passionate it’s very easy to confuse listening with waiting for your turn to talk; by entering a conversation with no agenda you give yourself a chance to really hear and understand the perspective of your people–which will open new doors in your relationships.

  2. Great post, Maureen. Thanks.

    I think it is not always possible to enter a conversation with no agenda. Sometimes it has to be enough to enter with an open agenda. Everyone has an agenda–speaker and listener alike. Communication is ever colored by individual agendas.

    You are so right that it is passion that often creates confusing and cross-purpose conversations. Pehaps it is enough to be willing consider the other’s agendas and be super-aware of our own.

    • “be willing consider the other’s agendas and be super-aware of our own.”

      That is a nice way to put it. My point is that if you aren’t open to the possibility that what you hear might change you (or your agenda) you aren’t really listening.

      It doesn’t mean that you will always change your mind–or (as you point out) that you don’t go into a conversation with a certain point of view.

      Only that your “cup” is empty enough to take in new information.

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