In a week that's featured the return of Adele's powerfully emotional voice, the silencing of Whitney Houston's soaring vocals, and the imminent finale of Glen Campbell's crooning to Alzheimer's disease, I feel compelled to share this truth: Use your voice. It's the center of your influence.
Ever lost your voice? I've been silenced by a case of full blown laryngitis this week and am under doctor's orders to stay completely silent for 48 hours. No speaking. No whispering. Not so much as a gentle throat clearing.
You'd be surprised at how much you learn about your ability to influence when you're suddenly silent -- and what others imply by your stillness.
My silence thrust a bank into high alert. Blame my upbringing, but while making a deposit at my local bank branch, I slipped the teller a note apologizing for my silence. When I looked up, I spotted the camera zooming in really tight on me. Hold-up note, anyone? Lesson learned -- never overcompensate when a red panic button is on the line.
I learned that I deeply value and miss sharing exchanges with strangers like "thank you" and "you're welcome." I missed chatting with my college daughter on the phone. I missed the ability to call my dad. And to exchange quick pleasantries with the flyer in the next seat. My doctor-induced silence felt foreign and borderline rude, ap0logy notes notwithstanding.
Of course, my friends and family had a different viewpoint. My son found my predicament ironically funny since I wrote a book entitled Talk Less, Say More. Now he's playfully re-titled it Talk Less, Write More.
How does my laryngitis relate to your influence? More than you'd think. As an executive coach, I witness a world full of people who aren't using their voices. They're withholding when they should be contributing. Sadly, they're being misunderstood and losing opportunities for advancement as a result. Not to mention that their organizations are missing important contributions. Some quick tips:
- Don't be invisible. Get in the game - contribute with an assertive voice
- A habit of staying silent while decisions are being made damages your credibility
- Withholding well thought-out ideas sabotages your power
- Don't let perfection prevent you from contributing your ideas.
- Think excellence, not perfection.