3 things to do if you are not being listened to at work



1. Step out and OBSERVE the bigger picture when you’re feeling isolated and unheard.

2. Focus on what you’re doing right, build your confidence with evidence.

3. Take some time to reflect where your beliefs about yourself come from. Self-awareness is the mark of a mature, emotionally intelligent professional. 

I was coaching a female exec in London a few years ago. She was part of a senior leadership team and her day began with an early am whip meeting. It’s a creative environment with the sharing of ideas as a core part of what they do. The client explained that she had a dread both physically and emotionally when walking into the room every morning. Her tummy would feel queasy and she kept questioning her contribution – she felt it wasn’t good enough.

“I’m not listened to or taken as seriously, it feels like I’m being humiliated. I share my ideas and the first thing that I’m asked is ‘have I got anything else’. I’m left feeling like I have nothing substantial to contribute and I’m useless to the team. Where does my confidence disappear to?”

She was considering either asking for a demotion because she thought maybe she just wasn’t cut out to be in the senior management team, or alternatively finding a new job.

The following is the homework she agreed to do after we discussed options and clarified the rational as to what information we were looking for. I thought her learning might be useful for us all reflect on during those times when we think were not being heard.

I have edited her learning in italics under each piece of work.


For the next week, step out of your own headspace and observe your colleagues. Does the same thing happen to them? If so, what do they do in response?

Of the 8 people present, 2 women 5 men….and the boss. 3 were also not really listened too. Interestingly it is all the women, and only one of my male colleagues.

It would appear that other senior managers might be feeling the same way I do?

It was incredible to watch it play out. This sounds a bit bad, but it actually made me feel a bit better about it all. I wasn’t the only one! All of them shared their ideas, but the difference was in their responses. No one actually rolled their eyes, but it was as if they all expected for their ideas to be rejected. I think maybe I was doing this as well.

Slight drop of the head with a fixed smile on rejoining the moment.

My male college was actually worse somehow, he was so tense when sharing his ideas, and he fumbled with his words a little and didn’t sound confident at all. Interestingly he’s not like that at all during the normal working day when you speak with him. 

Look back over every morning meeting over the past month, and identify where your unique ideas were taken up.

OMG when I actually looked at the detail it probably averages out at one idea a day, which isn’t really that bad. In fact, it’s better than some of the people I consider high performers. 

In the past month, identify where you did contribute positively to discussions in regard to other people’s ideas at these meetings.

Around 2/3 of the time I had some kind of contribution, somewhere in one form or another. I started thinking about this and I could see a pattern.  Once the meetings are over we usually move towards the kitchen to make a coffee. It’s there, that I get asked for my opinion! My boss isn’t around but my colleagues clearly value my input… I could see it happening.

Who is being listened too at these meetings? How do they deliver their ideas, is there a process, a core skill they employ that makes people listen?

Major learning… it’s not just me! No one was really being listened to consistently. I noticed the boss usually had his head down, either just staring at the floor or checking his phone under the desk. I was really interested in one techniques used, one colleague literally stops talking until the boss raised his eyes, then my colleague continued.

There might well be a process they follow, I need to observe more to be sure, but it’s something like - share the idea, relate it to the outcome for the client, usually there was a statement at the end, and we would be the first that have done before - it will be a feather in our cap. The boss clearly likes the thought that we are first or better than our competitors.

Take 30 minutes in a quiet place and a notebook (lunch break in the park around the corner from the office.) I asked her in roughly chunks of 10 years to reflect on how people have listened to her. Family, school friend, teachers, Uni, first jobs etc. Nothing too onerous, just think about important conversations and how people listened to you.

Well this was a revelation. It would appear I have a bit of an issue with getting my point across with men. Most of the negatives were with males. Dad seems to appear quite a lot as someone who didn’t really listen to me, or at least I felt that. He didn’t really think what I had to say had as much weight as my brothers. Very old fashioned my dad!

The others were mostly disagreements I had had with a few people and interestingly I didn’t exactly find resolution with any of these people. That will be me avoiding conflict again Sian, hehe.

Hope this has been some food for thought and some useful tools for next time you’re feeling unheard at work. xs


7 tips to becoming a GREAT leader

So you want to be a leader, or you’re considering how to be a better leader?

Let’s clarify a few key points before you go haring off to apply for that next rung up the ladder or enroll in an expensive course that offers all the right leadership tips. The following is the world according to Sian. These are the key things I have learnt from my own professional experience and more recently my executive coaching. I have spent the past 40 years watching and learning from some great, and not so great leaders.

1: Leadership has nothing whatsoever to do with a title or a certain position. Having followers of any kind, especially ones that voted for you, doesn’t make you a leader either… just in case you were laboring under that misinterpretation

2: Using your authority, power and position as the main tools to lead others to get things done, will inevitably end with isolation and poor communication. That kind of leadership can best be described as bullying and intimidation.

3: To be a good or indeed a great leader, the first person you need to practice your leadership skills is on YOURSELF! We all want to follow people who have integrity and confidence. That confidence comes from knowing who you are as a person first, then you will find the leader you’re meant to be from within.

4: Learning to lead your own life with integrity is the defining factor that separates the wannabe’s from the good, and indeed the great leaders. Leadership is all about relationships, and we won’t trust anyone who cant trust himself or herself.

5: Leadership qualities come from within; they are the foundation of who you are. It’s your life purpose, core values, and a meaningful understanding of your life story and beliefs that create the foundations of those elusive leadership qualities. Lead your own life, know who “you” are first.

6: Authentic leaders inspire and motivate the people they lead to act and make good choices to achieve a shared vision. This is the confidence and wisdom to know what your role is as a leader. Only then can you support everyone else in understanding and delivering within their role.

7: You know when you’re leading with integrity. This happens when there is congruence between your skills, talents, and abilities, values and vision. Only then are you free to express yourself openly. That’s what authentic leaders look like. Those special humans, that quite literally have the leadership qualities that can change our personal or professional worlds.

How to start leading your own life...

By asking yourself what is likely to be the most challenging question you will ever answer.

“What is my life purpose, why do I exist and what can I achieve in my lifetime”

That question can be applied to every corner of your life, whether you are a CEO of a multinational, business owner, manager, parent or life partner ……you get the idea.  

I have some workbooks that can kick-start the process and give you some structure and process to follow. But in all honesty, I need to you consider very carefully before you embark on this road of self-learning. Once started it can, and will if you’re brave enough, change the very core beliefs that you now have about who you are. Empowering, most definitely, but it comes with a caveat. It takes time, focus, and the ability to empathise.

In Sian’s world...GREAT LEADERS all have the ability to empathise firstly with themselves. Only then can they empathise with the people they lead.