How to Grow Into Being Seen and Heard

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Have you ever struggled to be comfortable being seen and being heard and sharing your voice? If so, you aren’t alone and this article is for you.

Car Shopping — a Lesson on Being Visible

My dad loved to car shop. I remember dreading the weekend because every few weeks, it meant that our Saturday as a family was spent in the car, driving for hours and hours as dad car shopped. We never seemed to have previous warning, dad just came home from work for lunch on Saturday and told mom to load up we were going car shopping.

He had two methods.

1. Stay in the car.

He would just drive up and down each car lot looking at all the cars through the window without actually getting out of the car. Those were the days when he wasn’t prepared to buy or even talk about buying.

2. Park and get out.

He’d park the car and we’d all get out to follow him around the lot as he looked at cars. If he spotted one he was interested in, we stopped and hung around it until the salesman came.

You see, the salesmen were looking for just such a chance. They came out to make themselves visible to my dad so they could sell him a car. They would introduce themselves and they’d strike up a conversation about the merits of the car dad was looking at. They’d offer him a test drive, a cup of coffee or the chance to get the paperwork started. They would stay close by the entire time dad was willing to talk to them and consider options. They made sure they were “visible” to my dad. Why? It was because they wanted the sale. They knew they weren’t going to make the sale if they didn’t show up and be seen. Being visible to prospective buyers was one of the keys to their success.

One of my early lessons as an entrepreneur was that you have to “be visible”. Meaning, you have to show yourself where your people are. Online sales are actually very similar to car salesmen. But NOT that pushy car salesman that no one wants to be around!

You have to:

- Show yourself to your potential clients

- Hang out where they are and engage them in conversation

- Write a blog or jump on social media platforms

- Share stories from your life and your experience

- Let them see your personality

- Share your product or service

All this is done to make yourself “visible” to your potential clients and customers.

This concept that was particularly difficult for me as an extreme introvert. I’m someone who would rather be invisible than be in any kind of limelight. Large groups of people are overwhelming and intimidating. Especially if I feel like I’m being watched or looked at too closely. At a party, I am the one shrinking into the corner hoping no one will notice me. In my corporate career, I was more than happy to be the sidekick who just nodded and smiled keeping my focus on the “main speaker”, so that she would be the focus of attention. I was more than happy to be the one providing the moral support and lost details without saying a word.

Getting visible has gotten easier with practice and consistency.

However, I feel like there is another level to getting visible that goes deeper.

It taps into a more sacred part of you. It is the willingness to be seen and be heard.

Think about it, you can be visible without having to really say anything. Being seen or heard requires an active participation on both your part and that of your listener/viewer. It requires that you both be engaged in the process. It also requires a deeper level of vulnerability and trust from both sides. You have to be willing to open yourself up so your potential client or customer can see your vulnerability. They have to trust that you aren’t out to harm them or just to get their money. It requires a willingness to share who you really are without your walls and protections.

What does all this mean? Why is it important to make the distinction?

Peel Back the Layers

Just like peeling an onion, you can’t pull off the skin and be truly visible all at once. You have to pull out the dry outer layers first to get into the juicier inner layer.

1. Being visible is the dry outer layer. It is the layer that is the most easily peeled and sometimes even begins to fall off on its own. It’s something that we all do in some form or another throughout life. We show up at our day job. We volunteer for some community work. We post on social media. All of these things make us visible to others.

2. Being seen and heard is the next couple of layers that are juicer and just a bit harder to peel. This is where you start to get really vulnerable and tap into your true personality and voice. For example, you join a Facebook group of people with a similar interest. You begin to share your story and the things that make you unique. You start to engage and talk to them and find things that you each resonate with.

3. There is an even deeper layer though; the inner core of the onion. This is the heart of the matter where you are truly in your zone of genius. You are sharing from the core/heart of you and it speaks to the core/heart of your listener. There is no struggle to be seen or heard because you are speaking from your gift, your passion and your calling. And your people are hearing you. They are responding and beginning to share with you their struggle and vulnerabilities.

This third layer is where, when we hit it, we begin to cry — and that includes the metaphorical onion as well as the real one!

Those tears come from touching the core of who you are and allowing yourself to be truly seen and heard.

This is not a process that just happens overnight. You can’t simply take a big knife and cut open the onion to get to the core. If you try to do that, you will miss too much growth opportunity and you risk damaging the core of who you are. If you expose those inner vulnerable parts to the world without first peeling off the outer layers and allowing your core to adjust to being exposed, you run the risk of damaging the core in such a way that it could take years to heal.

Go through the process. Take the journey of peeling back the layers one at a time. There are no shortcuts. There is only one step at a time.

It’s like what I share with my clients. You don’t wake up one morning with a sudden host of healthy practices. You take one small step at a time to build on each step that came before. It’s a journey and a process and it requires patience, consistency and willingness to take each step (and backslide) as they come your way. Just like allowing myself to be seen and heard has taken one step at a time, accepting the setbacks and the backslides, but always keeping on the path. My work goes beyond wellness practices, learning to take things one step at a time gives my clients confidence to also be seen and heard so that they find more success and visibility in their business as well as their health.

Have you struggled to peel back the layers to get to the inner core of your voice so that you can be seen and heard with ease? I’d love to hear from you, so comment below and tell me about it.

Sherry Parks is a Wellness Coach who helps career women escape feeling trapped and out of control in their work life, so that they are happy on their own terms and have joy and excitement for their life. Grab her Free PDF, Top Tips for Successful Food Cleansing, here.

To connect with Sherry, join her women-only Facebook group Lives in Balance.