Everybody wants to be heard. Everybody wants their idea to be the one picked by their boss. Everybody wants to speak into important decisions. No one wants to earn it.

In our everyone-has-a-voice social media world, it is easy to forget that there was a time when you had to earn the right to be heard, but if you want to be heard and — more importantly — have your opinion respected in the marketplace then make it easier on yourself: Earn It.

1. Listen First, Speak Second.

This seems like it should be obvious, but take the time to listen before you speak up — and not just to people in the room. Listening can mean becoming a subject matter expert in your field by hearing TED talks, reading books, or interviewing veterans in your field.

Want to be heard? Listen first, speak second.

2. Get Comfortable Being the Dumbest Guy in the Room.

Everyone is so obsessed with being right and so afraid of being wrong. But, if you’re the smartest person in the room…then you’re probably in the wrong room.

“Never be the smartest person in the room. If you are, I suggest you find a different room.” Michael Dell

Learn to be okay when you’re the dumbest person in the room. The quickest way to the top is being okay with being at the bottom. Recognize that you have a lot to learn, put in the work, and earn the right to be heard.

3. Put Your Hand Down and Wait to Be Called On

Everyone loves the person who sat in the front of the classroom, raised their hand for every question, talked over everyone, and always thought they knew the answer…

…said no one ever.

Why do you think that the market and business world would be different?

Put your hand down, work your face off, and wait to be called on.

When the boss asks for you opinion — it sets a completely different tone than when you raise your hand and insist on speaking up.

4. Stop Playing the Short Game; Think Long-Term

Want short-term success? Kiss up to your boss.

Want long-term success…and a long-term platform?

Be a champion of your teammates’ success.

Too many people play the short game. They think, “If I just kill it with my boss, show off my work, and champion my career then my boss will love me and I’ll get promoted.” Maybe. But, everyone else will hate you.

Want long-term success? Support the success of all of your boss’ direct reports so much so that they can’t help but brag on your work to your boss. Develop your teammates’ success and let them sing your praises because people don’t like the person that toots their own horn.

5. Use Your Limited Platform to Encourage, Help, Support

In the beginning of your career it is likely that, relative to your boss or their boss, you are not going to have a massive speaking role — but everyone has a platform. Talk to the janitor. Talk to security. Talk to your co-workers. Talk to people on the bus. Talk to everyone.

Get in the habit of using your platform to encourage, help, and support people.

You never know what opportunities you’ll gain through kindness, care, and encouragement.

Everybody wants to be heard. No one wants to earn it.

Be the one that earns it.

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