Making Yourself Heard

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When you're not seen as the expert, there are ways to get people to take you seriously.
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Dorie Clark is an author, a marketing strategy consultant, and a business professor at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. People listen to her.

But when she entered the workforce at the age of 20 after completing a B.A. and graduate degree, she found it challenging at times for her ideas to be heard, especially with colleagues who had many more years of experience.

Understanding what it’s like to be pushed aside even when you know what you’re talking about, she came up with ways to get people to listen which she outlined in an article for the Harvard Business Review: "Get People to Listen to You When You're Not Seen as an Expert."

"If you look different than other people in the workplace," she said, "maybe you’re the one woman in a tech company or something like that, people’s biases may be toward not taking you quite as seriously as other people, and so if you want to be heard, period, you may need to exert some strategy."

1. Create an echo chamber: If you're facing one roadblock to being heard from your boss, try befriending other people in the office who your boss respects. They can vouch for you in meetings and show your boss you should be taken seriously. In politics, they call it "powermapping."

2. Begin to position yourself as an expert. Start creating content around the subject you want to master. Blog about it. If you're learning, take readers along on your journey on the topic.

3. Borrow from the experts. Research and read widely and cite the experts you're learning from. 

4. Find common ground. When you're trying to convince your coworkers to take you seriously, try to bond with them as best you can. People are more likely to root for you if they feel like they're on your team.

Dorie said there's no substitute for doing real work to educate yourself – her advice is for informed people with good ideas.

"These strategies can be used for good or ill," she said, but in the Internet age, you have to know what you are talking about. If you're a phony, someone will probably find out.

 

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