If a tree falls in the middle of the woods and nobody hears it, does it still make a sound?
When it comes to your business, the answer is
It doesn’t matter.
You’re in a room full of people you don’t know. Sitting on a couch, wedged between throaty women wearing bright colours. They speak a language you don’t understand. They’re not ignoring you…but they’re also not paying too much attention. You’re foreign. Different. Interesting, but not as important as the things they’re discussing.
The door to the room opens, heat and sunlight spilling through the doorway momentarily. A woman, somewhere in her late 50s, enters. As she makes her way into the room, every single person pauses their conversations to greet her. They either stand up and bob a shallow curtsey, give her a hug, or at the very least, call out a loud and cheerful
“E kãro (good morning) Ma!”
Shy, you mumble a quiet ‘good morning Ma, then settle further back into the couch.
Later, your friend quietly informs you that it was rude you didn’t greet the woman that entered.
Variations of this happened to me a number of times during my recent trip to Nigeria.
I’m naturally soft-spoken, and a little shy.
Nigeria is a beautiful, fascinating, vibrant country. The culture and etiquette are also extremely different to what I grew up with here in Sydney. My uncertainty about the social expectations made me feel even shyer, my voice even softer.
It took almost a full week of being nudged to greet people loudly for me to get the hang of it.
The first couple of times I got told off for being rude, I felt indignant. I’d done my duty. I’d said the words!
The problem was, I hadn’t said them loudly or clearly enough. I hadn’t been heard.
Eventually, though, the lesson sunk in:
It doesn’t matter what you say if nobody can hear you.
It’s the same with your business. You can have the best value proposition, the most unique product or service, the noblest philosophy, and the most touching, inspirational backstory ever.
If you can’t communicate that proposition, what you’re offering, who you are, and why you’re doing what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter.
Ready to be heard?