Q I’m an internal HR consultant providing day-to-day HR support to line managers. I feel my advice is often ignored and that I’m not treated with respect. I end up having to rely on my position of authority to get things done, rather than my ability to influence others. How can I be more effective?
A Most people do not like being told what to do or given advice when they don’t feel listened to. So my first question would be: are you really listening to your line managers?
It’s vitally important to listen to what their real issues are. But don’t just listen to the words listen to how they are said. Listen for implied meaning and reasoning, and evaluate the feelings behind the words. Show you are listening closely by using an open body position, lean forward, nod, smile, maintain eye contact and don’t fidget. If you catch yourself putting up any barriers to listening, try to tear them down immediately.
Then, from an HR perspective, try to use a coaching style to help them understand the impact of their decisions. People are far more willing to respond to your requests if they feel acknowledged, understood and appreciated.
To communicate effectively, you must put yourself in their shoes. Speak their language and use words and phrases that they are familiar with. Try to think like they do and ask yourself what is important to them. Why should they listen to you? What is in it for them? Always try to structure your comments so that you highlight the benefits for them in following your advice. Try to show that you really understand their issues and that you can provide added value.
If you still feel they don’t listen to you, then you must work to gain a clearer understanding of how you come across and the effect or impact you have on others. By appreciating this, you can adapt your communication style to ensure that others hear and understand you clearly. It’s not just what you say but how you say it.
It’s estimated that around 60% of our communication is non-verbal, so be aware of your body language. Think about how you appear to others and try to improve the non-verbal signals you send out.
Sometimes, people unconsciously project an image of lack of confidence. It may be through gestures, posture or mannerisms. It could be that you believe you are shy or that you don’t want to impose your view on others. However, these beliefs could be reducing the effectiveness of your message.
If you want people to listen to what you have to say, it’s important that you listen to them, understand their concerns, communicate what is in it for them and deliver your advice with confidence.
Executive coach and co-founder