Benefitting from Being In
So you’re in the in-group. You’re invited to the TGIFs and the bull session isn’t complete without you. Congratulations.
However, a seat at the table is not enough. If all you do is laugh at their jokes and nod vigorously, you’ll gradually but surely slip out of the in-group. To stay in, you need a presence. And preferably not as court jester. You need to add value to be in line for the plum assignments and other perks. How?
When first included, you may not know the topic or perspective needed.
- Do some homework.
- Zero in on where to make an effective intervention. Being for or against is not usually enough.
- Make substantive points.
- Fit them in as appropriate but don’t cram. Even one effective intervention will add credibility.
- Don’t talk off the top of your head. Prepare to impress.
Make the point quickly
Often people have good points but don’t say them effectively and quickly. They give the impression of thinking out loud.
- Don’t assume you can. You’re untested and the group won’t sit through your musings.
- Practice the effective and quick words which will make your good point.
- If you pique interest, the boss may let you expand on it.
It can be daunting to speak. But you can’t make an impact unless you do.
- Fake it until you feel it.
- Speak as if you believe rather than hoping somebody will agree.
- Speak as if you have a right to speak (which you do) rather than presenting an apologetic face.
- Don’t go overboard, grandstand, or hammer a point nobody buys.
- You can speak softly if your tone is full of quiet confidence.
Talk for talking’s sake
Generally, you should only speak when you have something to say. But meetings seem to have an unwritten rule. If you don’t speak, it’s as if you aren’t there. Listening only is for the peanut gallery or the big cheese (another mixed metaphor—I like them) who’s so important she doesn’t need to establish it. You can’t keep silent, especially over repeated meetings.
But if you don’t know enough for the suggestions above, here`s a couple of things to say:
“I think Bob has an interesting point,” and then repeat it in your own words plus “I really think that’s worth considering.” Says nothing, but makes a friend of Bob.
“Didn’t we have something similar with the Airdale account? Maybe we should throw that into the mix.” You have to know how Airdale is similar but you don’t need an original thought.
I think there`s an unwritten rule about speaking to stay in. Of course, it should be mostly substantive points. If it’s all filler, the more astute will pick up you`re just doing the verbal equivalent of nodding vigorously.