Ask E. Jean - Tormented? Driven Witless? Whipsawed by confusion?

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Can you tell me how I can be more assertive and heard?
9 times out of 10, everyone talks over me. They interrupt me. I tried to talk louder, I tried to say please hear me out, I’ve really gone the opposite way to my true personality, to solve the issue. Otherwise I’m quiet and speak softly. I’ve really raised my voice and made it clear, “Please listen...please hear me out first”
Instead, people continue to talk over me, interrupt me, even go as far as to say “Calm down” when I stress to them to let me finish.... how can men take a firm voice and talk over people, yet if a woman does it, they want her to shut up and listen...if she’s assertive she’s a bitch or told to calm down...I’m beyond pissed. It happened to me again.

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    This is awful, and you have my sympathy!

    If this is happening at meetings, whoever is chairing them should be running a tighter ship, where everyone has an equal chance to be heard. If you have not already discussed the issue with the chair, make sure to have a word before the next meeting, asking the chair to step in and ensure that whomever is speaking (not just you, but anyone) gets the chance to express their thoughts on a subject in full (to a reasonable length) before moving on to the next speaker. A good chair/manager will be able to do this without issue.

    But, of course, rudeness and interruptions often happen in less formal situations, where there is no expectation of "rules of order".

    If it's happening in an office, or a social environment, and you've got a naturally quiet voice, that can actually be used to your advantage. It's difficult, but not impossible....

    When you are interrupted by some loud clod, let it play out. If the interruption makes a point you were about to, you wait til they're finished and say: "Very astute, Claude. You grasped my point exactly. And there's also this to consider ...{go on to explain another relevant point}..."

    The quietness of your voice, if done correctly and with confidence, makes it clear who REALLY had the initial idea.

    If, as is more likely, ol' loudmouth DIDN'T get the point to begin with, and goes off on an irrelevant tangent? Then wait until he's finished, and say, "As I was saying..." -- then continue on with your reasonable proposition as if he didn't say anything important or noteworthy in the least. Because he didn't.

    Again, a tone of confidence -- not loudness, confidence -- can really carry the day here.

    BUT....if this is happening at home, with a partner? Then you've got a bigger problem to deal with. While it's annoying at work, it's *intolerable* at home ... you can't have a relationship with someone who will not let you express your thoughts.

    If this is the case, the change you need to make isn't so much in speaking louder -- it's in being assertive that this relationship needs to change, or it's over.

    reply to Kal
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    In addition to Kal's excellent advice, I would also caution you about your tone. If you do raise your voice, try to keep the tone low.
    If they hear even a slight inflection or higher tone, people often tune out; they think the speaker is getting emotional (which is often not the case).

    reply to Em
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