Speak First – and Win!

by | Aug 19, 2023

You’re in an interview for a job that really interests you.

Or you’re in a meeting with a critically important customer. Or maybe you’re having the first 1-to-1 with your boss in weeks.

Speak first – and win!

In each of these situations you desire to perform well, to leave a positive impression, to show your best side.

And in each situation the potential of being confronted with questions or challenging statements is something real. Something you feel. You can almost see it hovering like a cloud just below the ceiling. That cloud loaded with content you’d rather avoid appears threatening. Its presence has power. It can keep you from achieving your goal, can derail you.

 

What exactly is lodged within that cloud? What specifically are you uncomfortable with?

It might be a question like “What’s the status of your relationship with your current employer?” or “Why have you been stuck in the same company and role for more than 15 years?” Maybe the important customer is harboring skepticism about your ability to manage the account as a newcomer on the scene – at least you so imagine. And your boss? She has signaled her doubts about your approach in working out some issues with an underperforming team member.

Looking at these three examples, the inherent tension is obvious. No one typically prefers such uphill encounters over talks that are clearly positive. Talks that just flow naturally. Interactions that exude safety and acceptance. Such talks, in contrast with the hill metaphor, seem as easy as coasting down a sloping bike path.

Right now you can discover a method of dealing differently and well with such situations. A way to overcome your discomfort, be true to yourself, and leave a strong impression by applying a simple yet daring approach. It’s a five-word principle:

 

Be First To The Mic.

Yes, grab that unseen microphone and speak up. Be the first person to address the topic hiding in that cloud. Instead of waiting and wondering when the other party will bring it up, take the first step. Move into that zone that is begging to be avoided.

 

Speak about it.

When you do so, avoid details but cover all the basics. A matter-of-fact, nonchalant manner of speaking is appropriate and effective. You intentionally use your voice and number of words to demonstrate your mindset, namely that the topic is small and well-managed and doesn’t require a lot of space.

If you choose to wait and simply respond when the other person brings up the uncomfortable topic, you will likely appear defensive, overly explanatory, or clearly not at ease in the moment. By being pro-active when it feels unnatural or unexpected, you deflate the tension you sense. You clear away that cloud. You take control of the moment and make the issue a non-issue. When you address it first, you increase the likelihood of the “elephant in the room” becoming nothing more than one of the many items to be discussed. All of the sudden it’s no longer a big deal – not to you or your counterpart.

 

And that feels good.

Being first to the mic is one of the ways you can display confidence and poise, owning a situation when it matters most. The good news is once you become acquainted with the idea, it’s easy to put into practice.

And for the reader who doesn’t want to approach the mic alone, reach out to me. We can do it together.

 

Speak First – and Win!

 

 

Matthew Hansen

Matthew Hansen

Hi! I’m Matthew, the easy-to-remember coach and sparring partner for leaders and executives.

My passion: enabling my clients to rise up, step out, and move beyond. I stand for clarity and inspiration through questions and reflection.

Words and pictures are some of my closest friends. One differentiating fact about me: I make room for my heart and emotions in every activity – online or onsite.

Keywords: interview | job search

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About

 

Hi! I’m Matthew, the easy-to-remember coach and sparring partner for leaders and executives.

My passion: enabling my clients to rise up, step out, and move beyond. I stand for clarity and inspiration through questions and reflection.

Words and pictures are some of my closest friends. One differentiating fact about me: I make room for my heart and emotions in every activity – online or onsite.

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