A significant source of stress can be the frustration which can soon escalate to anger when we don’t feel that we are being heard. Depending on our personality this may be vented or it may simmer below the surface, ready to erupt and sometimes the most unexpected moments and over the seemingly smallest things.
Ironically, the key to being heard, is learning to listen. Most of us most of the time are unconsciously preoccupied with whether we are being liked and accepted. This is fundamental to us as social beings. Some more than others, like all things we’re all somewhere on a spectrum. Central to this need for acceptance is knowing that other people are aware of and value our existence. Not being heard can be so corrosive, It effects us so fundamentally as a reflection of whether we matter or not. We all know the feeling when someone seems to really pay attention to what it is that we are about, who we are and what matters to us. We can give this gift to each other but it takes a bit of work to learn how to do it. When we know how to really hear others, we know what is needed for us to be heard – we know what to ask for.
An important part of being heard is knowing how to communicate about who you are and what you need. Many people don’t do this, especially at work. Work culture plays a big part in this, yet we all admire the person who seems to have the confidence to be themselves, to speak authentically and to state their case with courage and conviction. One of the biggest issues in relation to this is the pressure people feel under at work to never say no. It is preferable to feel the pain of a workload that is simply crippling you rather than say that you can’t do it. The culture will be a big part of why it isn’t ok to say no, but for your own health you have to learn to do this. Whatever the reason, the fundamental motivation behind it will be fear of a negative consequence. That can be anything from the suggestion implied or otherwise that you are not up to the job, right up to the fear of being sacked, demoted or performance managed, your pay therefore being affected.
When you want to speak your truth, being able to understand, acknowledge and take into consideration someone else’s is a very significant skill. We need to know our limits and have the courage to speak and to do so whilst hearing and acknowledging why someone else is making the demands on us, puts us in a powerful and resilient place.