Have you ever made a comment in a meeting and no-one responded, then someone else made the same comment later on and people started talking about it? Arghh!!
It’s probably happened to all of us at some point. It makes me wonder:
· Was it a stupid comment?
· Did I not say it right?
· Did they not like it because I’m a woman?
· What was I thinking??
But there might be several reasons for the fact that your comment didn’t land:
- It’s possible that people ignored your comment because of your gender, race, age or other category.
- Maybe the group wasn’t ready to hear what you were saying; they might need time to catch up with your thinking.
- The timing might not have been right. It might be a great comment which will be better heard at a different time.
- If you raised a delicate issue, people might not feel safe responding.
- You might be seeing things that the group doesn’t see; you might be good at seeing a systemic picture which others aren’t trained to see.
What to do?
If someone else makes the same comment later in the meeting, you could say, with a smile: I’m so glad you saw the value of my idea; thanks for bringing it up again!
For #1, it’s hard to change people’s perceptions, but sometimes you can bring it to their attention. One client I was coaching came up with a great follow-up: “I know I’m the youngest in the room, but I do have an opinion.” (said with a smile). If you can bring humor, that usually works. I think that’s harder to do around race or ethnicity; do you have a good rejoinder to that?
Otherwise (#2-5): Don’t take it personally. It’s not about you. You could say “I noticed that nobody responded to my comment a while ago. I’m just curious: does anyone have an opinion about it?” If you say it in a curious, non-judgmental tone, people can often respond to that.
You could also ask a colleague for their perception about the non-response; did they see anything that you didn’t see? You could also see if there’s a different way to state your comment and try saying it at another meeting.
We all want to be able to influence a #conversation; as we gauge the impact of our comments, we need to #diagnose what’s going on and possibly adjust our delivery. That’s a key leadership skill!
I’d love to hear your experience: Have you ever made a comment in a meeting and no-one responded? How did you interpret that and what did you do?