There’s a question I tell my coaching clients to ask—and ask often.
What did you hear?
Here’s where that got started. In my one-on-one sessions, I help clients put together language that explains why they are uniquely and authentically awesome. Once we’ve landed on the language, I bring up the next step in the process: testing it out with others. I tell them to practice saying their value statement out loud, to get feedback on how they talk about themselves from people they respect. I get it.
ASKING “WHAT DID YOU HEAR?” IN THIS CONTEXT IS HARD. IT’S WAY HARDER THAN SAYING “DO I LOOK CUTE IN THIS DRESS?”
And we all know what can of worms that question can open.
But here’s the thing. Every decision about you and your opportunities are made in a room you’re not in. I’ve shared this idea a million times over the last few years. And if it’s true (and it is) you want to do something about that, right?
“What did you hear?” is the best question you can ask to see if you’re on the right track with influencing what’s said in the room that you’re not in. So whether I have personally coached you or not, I want you to try it out with someone who already thinks you’re awesome.
Here’s what happens when you do.
- You get to hear what “landed” with the listener. Did they understand what you were trying to get across? Did keywords or phrases pop out enough for the listener to remember them, or did they use different terms? When you’re introducing yourself to someone, it’s easy to make keeping the conversation going your only goal. Yes, you want to say something that the other person finds intriguing. But keep in mind, you’re also trying to make sure the other person remembers you. More than that, your introduction should be memorable for what YOU want them to remember. The question “What did you hear?” ensures that you can tick both those boxes.
- You’ve just given this person a practice session on how to talk about why you’re awesome. Do you remember the other week when I talked about how we needed to do better than saying someone is good at “getting s**t done”? Practicing your value statement with them is exactly how you mitigate that problem. Of ALL the people on the planet, it’s the people who already think you’re great that you want equipped to articulate why you’re uniquely awesome. And yes, you want them to use the language YOU want them to as much as their own.
Let me play this out for you for a second. For a long time in the industry I worked in, I was known for understanding the complicated business nuances of the Ad Technology space. I was very happy being known for that. However, today, while I can talk to people about the topic, it’s not what I want to be known for anymore. I had to tell people for nearly a year about what I’m doing today. I had to almost re-train my network on the value of me. Now I’m a bit of an extreme case. Most of you aren’t going to do a major pivot in your career. But still, I’ll bet there’ve been many times when you’ve heard someone describe what you do, and you’ve thought, “No, not that exactly.”
Not convinced to go out and ask, “What did you hear” yet? Put all this why-are-you-awesome aside for a second.
Imagine you’re just sharing an idea with someone, any idea. Now imagine how much of the conversation would change if you asked “What did you hear?” after sharing rather than “What do you think?”
I dare you, give it a try. I think you might be surprised by what you hear.