How to speak so that people want to listen | Julian Treasure
How to Get People to Listen to You
Sometimes you might feel like people don’t listen to what you have to say. Be it in a discussion at work, or a conversation with friends or family, it can be frustrating when you feel like you’re being ignored. Try to speak in a more direct way, and keep it concise to make the most impact. Think about who you are talking to, and listen as well as talk.
Speaking More Clearly, Directly, and Powerfully
Use active language.Speaking assertively means saying something in a way that is active and direct. This is a more effective way to talk than speaking more passively, which is less likely to get someone to listen to you. If, for example, you are asking somebody to do something for you, a clear and assertive request may get better results than a more passive one.
- An assertive request could be as simple as “will you pick up the kids today?”
- A more passive version of this might be “after you’ve finished messing around with that, could you get the kids? If you’re not too busy of course.”
- Avoid adding tag questions to the end of your statements, such as “is that okay?” or “does that make sense?”
- Clear and direct communication can help you communicate more effectively in all kinds of relationships.
Use I-statements.One helpful method for direct and effective communication it to use plenty of I-statements. Using I-statements helps you express how you feel to somebody, without explicitly implicating or accusing the other person of anything. It focuses on your feelings and experience, rather than the other person.
- For example, if you always end up buying the milk, address this with an I-statement.
- Say, “when we run out of milk in the morning, I feel frustrated because I buy it every day.”
- Avoid accusatory you-statements such as: “you never buy the milk!”
Be concise and direct.You have something important and interesting to say, but often explaining it less rather than more can be most effective way to articulate it. If you try to give a great amount of detail, or talk for too long, you run the risk of people losing interest and you losing their attention. Try to think of ways to summarise what you want to say before you say it.
- In order to be concise, you need to have a certain confidence about what you are talking about.
- You will be able to explain something concisely when you have a strong understanding of it.
- If you are asking a question, be polite but concise. For example, saying “will you please pass me that file?” is more direct than saying “excuse me, would you mind, if you’re not too busy, passing me that file?”
- A more direct request conveys more force, but if you are impolite or too blunt, your request may be met with resistance.
Don’t exaggerate.If you are prone to wild exaggerations, you shouldn’t be too surprised if people start to take you less seriously and don’t listen to what you say. Frequent and inappropriate use of words like “never” and “always” indicate that you might have a tendency to exaggeration. If your friend is sometimes late to meet you, don’t say “you’re always late, every time. It’s so annoying."
- Try to stick to facts. If your friend was late twice in a row, say that “you’re late again, that’s twice in a row.”
Be persistent.Sometimes you will have to be prepared to be persistent and patient in order to get your point across. If you are talking to someone who is easily distracted, or not a great listener, persistence can really help. Repeating yourself over and over can be very frustrating, but is worth it if it’s the only way to be sure you are understood.
- If you are arranging to meet someone, repeat the time and place until you are sure it’s got through.
- “We’re meeting at the bar at 8pm, right?”
- You can also use a technique called fogging to reflect what the other person has said, and then repeat your point.
- For example, you might say “you said that originally we were meeting at 7, but there’s been a change of plan, and now I’ll meet you at the bar at 8.”
Stick to the point.Long diversions are liable to prompt people to lose interest in what you are talking about, and could alienate your audience. It can be best to keep a conversation focussed on the immediate issue at hand, especially if this is a work meeting, or you are discussing something with a friend, partner or family member.
- If you change the subject or lose focus, the person you are talking to may interpret this as a lack of interest on your part.
- Keeping to the topic at hand shows a level of respect for the people you are talking to.
- For example, if you are talking about an issue at work, don’t suddenly change the subject to something unrelated.
- If a colleague says something like “we have this problem with our supplier, and we need to figure out what to do,” respond directly and don’t say something like “yeah, ok. Actually I was just thinking about what holiday to take next year.”
Using Body Language and Tone
Adjust your tone and volume.It’s not just what you say that is important, it’s also how you say it. The tone and volume of your voice can have a big impact on how people respond to you, and whether or not they listen to you. Try to speak at a normal conversational volume, not too loud, and not too quiet. Use a tone that is firm but not aggressive. This will make you sound more confident and assured.
- Don’t mumble your words, and pay attention to the responses of your interlocutors to judge their reactions.
- If they are leaning forwards, it might be because you are talking a little too quietly and they are struggling to hear you.
Maintain eye contact.Eye contact is an essential part of non-verbal communication. Just by looking at somebody you are inviting a certain level of interaction and engagement. Research shows that somebody returning eye contact is generally indicative of the acceptance of an invitation, and averting the eyes can suggest a rejection. People who seek eye contact with their interlocutors are generally perceived as more believable and earnest.
- Try to maintain eye contact with the person you are talking to, but be sure to do so in a non-aggressive way and don’t stare.
- Try to maintain eye contact for around 50% of the time you are talking, and 70% of the time you are listening.
- Once you establish eye contact, hold it for around five seconds.
- When you look away, do it slowly. Don’t suddenly look in another direction.
- Try to establish eye contact before you start speaking to someone to make a strong initial impression.
Think about body language.Good body language can really help you create a strong impression when talking. It’s important to consider your body language and how well it matches up with what you are saying. For example, you will be sending mixed and confusing messages if you speaking firmly, but looking down at floor.
- Try to maintain good eye contact, stand tall and straight, and relax your face while talking.
- Body language is thought to give an honest expression of how you are feeling.
- Try to look appropriately relaxed for the situation, but don’t try too hard and look overly relaxed. This might signal that you are disinterested.
Understanding Your Audience
Evaluate your audience.If you want to be an effective communicator, and ensure that people listen to what you have to say, it’s important to understand who you are talking to. If you are trying to engage people on a subject completely alien to them, it’s going to be a difficult task. Ask yourself the following questions about your audience:
- Who are they, and what do they do?
- How can the audience benefit from listening to you?
- What do they already know about the topic?
- What is the relationship between you and the audience?
- What are your audience interested in?
- What impact will what you say have on the audience?
- Asking the audience simple questions will help you to answer these questions.
- For example, if you are talking about a recent report, you could ask “how many of you have had time to read the new report yet?”
Listen.Being a good listener is an essential part of being a good communicator. Whether it is a serious conversation with a significant other, or a business discussion with some colleagues, making the effort to listen and understand the concerns of other people will really help. If you feel like the person you are talking to is not properly responding to you, stop for a moment and just listen. Maintain eye contact when the other person is speaking, and try to concentrate and empathise.Try to practice active listening by following these basic rules:
- Try to understand before you try to be understood.
- Be non-judgemental.
- Give the speaker your undivided attention.
- Use silence effectively, and don’t interrupt unless necessary.
Find commonality with your audience.If you want to get people to listen to you and take your ideas on board, it can be very helpful to try and find some common ground with your interlocutors. Your audience may be more receptive to what you have to say if you can frame it in a way that is more inclusive and connects directly with their concerns.
Identify non-verbal signals.Try to pay attention to non-verbal signals from the people you are talking to. If you can identify body language and gestures that suggest you are losing your audience, you can try to get to the point more quickly, or try to engage more directly with those who seem disinterested. Look out in particular for the following signals:
- Folded arms: this may suggest the person is feeling closed off or defensive.
- Lack of eye contact: this can indicate that someone is not listening or interested. It may also suggest embarrassment or being uncomfortable.
- Turning away: if someone turns his back, or leans away, it may mean they are losing interest and looking to get away.
QuestionHow do you get your family to stop being verbally mean?
M.A, Clinical Mental Health CounselingM.A, Clinical Mental Health CounselingExpert AnswerIf verbal abuse or profanity is an issue, discuss it with your family and suggest family counseling to help communication and to learn new patterns of interacting.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if the person keeps talking over me?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAsk them to politely stop and if that does not work, seek additional assistance.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I make my friend listen to me when she keeps interrupting and shouting?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTell her in a calm voice, "Please let me finish what I'm trying to say, and then it will be your turn to speak." If she still refuses to let talk, say something like, "I'm just going to give you some space to calm down." And then walk away. Try to talk to her again later.Thanks!
When I tell people the truth they never listen how can I solve this?
I'm playing Capture the Flag for gym class and I have a strategy to win, but my team likely won't listen to me. What can I do?
- If you stumble or make a mistake, just know it happens to everyone and keep going.
- If any audience members have any questions, be sure to engage them and answer.
- Stay alert and active all the time.
- Develop fluency in your language and your way of persuading other people.
- Don't get frustrated if people are not listening; just politely get their attention.
- If people don't listen right away it doesn't mean they don't care, want anything to do with you, or don't want to help it just means they don't know how or they can get to you right now!
Video: How to Get People to Listen to You: 3 Power Phrases for the Workplace and 3 Phrases to Ditch Forever
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