Don’t Talk AT Me

Boss threatens finger to businessman. Pop art retro vector illustration


How Passionate People Can Talk so others Want to Listen


Recently at two meetings I attended, I experienced individuals speaking being so passionate about their message of helping other women in business that they started to speak at us vs. to us. Initially, with both women, I was interested and then found myself shutting down as they shared some “absolutes” about how we as women need to be or should be if we wish to succeed. Their goal is very admirable, as with many leaders, however, their delivery is sadly missing the mark for their success!

Now, I don’t believe this is a women’s issue per se, as men can be equally as passionate and get caught up in their excitement of how they think things should be better as well.

How does this transfer this into the team environment?

Perhaps you are a new leader and have lots of great ideas, and in your excitement, you start to prophesize about your vision. In doing so, you can inadvertently offend people who believe that you are criticizing or even condemning their past work. Take a moment to think about where your team members are at prior to making a lot of recommendations before you get your feet wet in the team. Make sure that you ask for their ideas upfront and incorporate them. Remember that the “critical voice” in the team can be a great source of information and is often able to see the potential risks of a new idea. Then use their insights to problem solve how the particular risk could be mitigated. When solutions and visions are co-created with the team, the probability of success is enhanced.

Or you’ve been the leader for some time and you learn of a new product or service that you are really excited about. You walk into the meeting and share this idea – and perhaps – even instruct the team that we are going to go this way. Remember, none of us really love to be told what to do! If you want adoption of your idea, then introduce it and ask for team members to share their perspective with you. Think about how you can make this a more interactive conversation vs. talking at them. It may be helpful to have a brainstorming session on the potential benefits and pitfalls from the perspective of a team member, the team as a whole and the organization. Then look at all the data and proceed accordingly. Teams tend to adopt new ideas when they have input and influence on what and how they are carried out.

Or you are sharing your personal passion. Be very careful not to use words like “should”, “must”, “have to”, and so on.  These words come across as absolutes and when team members don’t fit the absolute, they may shut down and stop listening too. We tend to become overwhelmed and at times experience an Amygdala Hijacking when being passionately spoken too.

Help enhance your level of success and give a generous thought to how you can make your message easier for your audience to hear. If you relate to this struggle, let’s chat about how Coaching can help you shift your energy and get even better results!


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