Let’s face it. We all want to be heard in our relationships, be they personal or business. But what’s the best way to get our point across? Not by yelling, that’s for sure. As soon as voices get raised, ears get shut. We’ve all been at both ends of that game, and it doesn’t work. But what does?

Communication is the basis of all successes and all evils, so you have to know how to deliver your message. If you want your point to be well taken, your voice heard, and your objectives reached, no matter who you’re talking with, pitching to, or negotiating with, if you follow these 5 simple rules of engagement, you’ll be heard – LOUD and CLEAR.



Communicate yourself happy. Use your words to help you, not sabotage you. If you start with anger and negativity, no one will listen. If you’ve got your back up, you need to address it – before you communicate. Take a timeout and let the sediment settle so you can see clearly. Often when we wait out defensiveness, our perceptions change and perspective returns. When we’re calm, we see better and achieve better results. Calm tells the other person you want to address the issue as a win-win proposition.

2. Choose your WORDS carefully

Shoot first, ask questions later didn’t work at the ole’ corral, and it never does – anywhere. Before you speak, consider your words. Never, EVER, begin a conversation with words that attack. Accusatory sentences that begin with You, Why, What may be interpreted as I’m right, you’re wrong. Make sure, instead, that you open the conversation without laying blame. Lead with I-phrases that take ownership of your feelings, such as I noticed that, I know it was with good intentions that, or, I love that you….When you begin your sentences with your feelings, you are not accusing and the other person is more likely to hear what you’re saying.

3. Watch your TONE 

The tone you take can make or break a conversation regardless of the words you use. Even the nicest of intentions can sound hurtful or accusatory if you choose the wrong tone. How do you keep your tone on track? Calm and positive, yes, but don’t forget kind and firm. Pretend you’re talking to a stranger. Doing so will ensure your tone stays respectful. You can talk all you want, but if your tone  is sending a different message, nothing you say will help you.

4. Consider your BODY LANGUAGE

What is your body saying about your intent? If you want to be heard, not only do you have to watch what you say but HOW your body is saying it. Eye-to-eye contact is key. Holding your phone, a pen, a food item? Put it down. If you want respect and validation, you also have to give it. You won’t be taken seriously if you’re trying to convey a message while multitasking. Get on-level too. In any conversation, you want democracy, not dictatorship. That means if the other person is standing, you stand. If they’re sitting, you sit. Your goal is not only to create rapport and buy-in so they listen, but also to show you are equals in the conversation.


Giving thanks is an important step that many people forget. Let the other person know you appreciate them for not only taking the time to listen, but for hearing you and helping to communicate to effectively. Gratitude sets up a positive platform not just for the relationship and your expectations, but also for the next time you need to air something. All relationships hit snags and require ongoing communication.

photo credit: tranchis via photopin cc

About the author

Lauren Millman

Lauren Millman is a Professional Certified Coach, Counsellor, Interventionist and Behaviourist, in private practice in Toronto. She writes for business organizations and e-magazines, and is a regularly featured expert on Rogers Daytime and CTV. Lauren is all about keeping it real, and thinking outside the box to help you get-your-happy-on. She's married with three kids, is a self-confessed coffee snob, and believes you can't own too many pairs of shoes.

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