How to Get People to Listen to You
Need help getting people to listen to you?
I am a shy person, and social situations can overwhelm me at times. But I have a loud family, and though I feel like I have things to say, I just can't get them to listen!
Now that I have four kids of my own, I still struggle with getting people to listen to me. In fact, I've faced the same situation at the office, in volunteer organizations, and even at fun, social gatherings at my own house.
Over the years, I've developed some techniques to help get people to listen. Not all of these tips work in every situation. You have to use a little bit of intuition to determine a receptive audience, and then decide what will work best. If, after trying these techniques, you still can't get them to listen, no matter what - its time to find a new group to hang out with!
Ready to learn how to get people to listen? Read on!
5 Easy Tips to Get People to Listen
No matter your situation, you can get people to listen using several tried and true tactics. I've used these at home with my kids, in family settings (always interesting and often a bit heated) and in the work place.
Before you try these tactics, consider the number of people in the room, the personalities of those present, and then take a deep breath before jumping into the conversation.
Here are 5 tips to help get people to listen to you, in just about any situation:
- Speak softly.
- Use short sentences.
- Be concise.
- Keep it simple.
- Stay on topic.
Get People to Listen in the Work Place
Let's face it - being heard at work is often difficult. Among many factors, perhaps the most influential is the fact that your co-workers are competing with you. In fact, even your superiors may not have your best interests in mind because.... if you advance... they do not.
If you are in a group meeting at work, consider these tactics and tips to get people to listen to you:
- Sit in the front of the room; people in the back are easily ignored
- Prepare your comments in advance, based on the scheduled topic
- Keep your statements brief, concise and to the point
- Tie your comments to stated company goals or objectives, i.e. new products, energy saving measures, etc.
- Talk for no more than 3 minutes and/or address no more than 3 points
- Repeat yourself, if necessary
- Follow up with a written memorandum to underscore your comments
Get Your Family and Friends to Listen
With people closer to you than co-workers, you have to consider personal history as an impediment to communication. When ever you have an issue with a friend or family member, the underlying cause is rarely the discussion at hand, but more often underlying hurts or issues from the past. That means getting family and friends to listen can be even more difficult. Each side will bring old wounds and scars to the table.
You can still get family and friends to listen. It just takes a bit more time and patience:
- Stay in the moment - don't bring up hurts from the past
- Give everyone their turn, but then ask to expect the same from them
- Talk in a low voice, but keep eye contact - this will force people to listen when its your turn to talk
- Segue slightly from the topic at hand (unless you are 100% interested) but tie in your contribution to the conversation
- Give it at least 10 minutes for family and/or friends to acknowledge your viewpoints - if not, then excuse yourself and see if there are others to converse with at the gathering
For me, one of the biggest issues I've faced in gatherings with family is acceptance. Through many years of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), I've learned that its not that they don't understand me, its that they do not accept me.
But this is not a bad thing. In fact, its great to know. You can still be yourself without feeling like you need to change to fit in. In short, its them and not you.
Trust me, and read on.
Get Your Kids to Listen
Getting your kids to listen to you is both the easiest and most difficult of the tasks in this hub. Its easier because - let's face it, you are an adult and the authority figure. Its more difficult because they only have their own self-interests at hand!
I've found that the following tactics work especially well when working with my 4 kids (ages 7-13):
- Don't raise your voice - lower it. By speaking softly, your children have to be quiet to hear what you say
- Incorporate a clear reward system for listening. It may not work to punish your kids for ignoring you, but if you have more than 1 child in your family you can instill competition among them for the best listening
- Keep lecturing short and sweet. Its like that Gary Larson cartoon of the dog only hearing key words and phrases. Don't go on and on. Make your point and then stop talking and shift focus
- Simple, short directives are the most effective. Teenagers in particular lose their attention span in nano-seconds. Keep your statements brief and to the point, and you are more likely they will hear you!
I sometimes try negative motivation with my kids - threatening to take away toys or privileges for not listening. But, like most human nature, they respond best to positive encouragement rather than threats. Yes, the carrot works better than the stick!
Do you have any tricks to help get people to listen? Be sure to share in the comment section below!
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© 2010 Stephanie Hicks
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