People are often so excited about the prospect of talking that they forget that people need to listen. Otherwise, what’s the point in opening your mouth in the first place. As a parent, entrepreneur and blogger, it’s essential that your audience takes in your message or else it will get lost in translation. And, the odds of getting them doing what you want them to reduce dramatically.
The key is to speak so that people want to listen yet it’s not as easy as it sounds. You need to be able to showcase a variety of talents, from offering value to captivating your audience. Anybody who has spoken publicly will know that these talents need nurturing as they are artforms. You might have a right to an opinion but people aren’t obliged to take any notice.
The good news is you can change how people perceive you in the office, the house or the wider community with a handful of strategies. Below you’ll find a mixture of advice on what makes people want to listen, what turns them off and how to communicate effectively. Are you listening? Of course you are because no one would want to miss out on this message.
Don’t Judge Or Spread Gossip
A natural human trait is to judge and spread gossip about other people. As soon as you see someone do something you disagree with, it’s an instant reaction that is difficult to change. However, you should reconsider the urge to talk about other people and their actions for two reasons.
The first is that gossiping doesn’t stand your reputation in good stead. In an office environment, savvy people make a link between their standing in the rumour stakes. To put it bluntly, they know they’ll be next and that makes them not take your words seriously. Gossip is as a conversation killer – as soon as you speak, they’ll not trust what comes out of your mouth regardless of the topic. Whether you’re a colleague, a peer or a boss, it’s not a good trait to have.
The second reason is pressure. It’s hard to listen if you feel you’re being judged because you focus on what you can do to hit the person’s standards and not what they’re saying. Of course, the same applies if people see you as judgy and your words will get lost in the ether. Getting people to listen is about your reputation, so be someone who doesn’t judge or divulge in gossip.
Stop Being Negative
Sometimes, it’s easier to see the glass that is half empty than the half-full one. If you’ve had a rough day and things aren’t going well, your words might be filled with tension and anxiety and it’s a massive turn off. After a while, negativity becomes difficult to listen to and people automatically switch off and stop listening. In extreme cases, others will seek to avoid you because they can’t stand being around someone who makes them feel miserable.
Obviously, it’s important to change the content of the message or else you will be pigeon-holed. The only way to do it is to make a conscious effort to speak about uplifting things to add excitement to your words. Altering your lifestyle so that you’re not living a sedentary existence can provide with topics that aren’t boring. Something much easier to modify is your pitch as it alters the meaning too.
Try and stop your words from sounding monotone by talking with a breezy tone. Peoples’ ears will instantly perk up just from the pitch of your voice and they will take notice.
Put Down The Blamethrower
Everyone has used a blamethrower at one point in their life. Something goes wrong and you find an excuse to divert the blame to somebody else because you don’t want to admit you’re wrong. And, you might not think you are thanks to your expertise in making excuses.
Using a blamethrower now and again isn’t too big of a deal; the problems start when you never put it down. In layman’s terms, people begin to take your words with a pinch of salt because they expect you to pass the buck to another person. Concerning your career, this is one of the worst things you can do as the hierarchy won’t respect you or your opinions. The best option is to admit that you didn’t live up to expectations, apologise, and try to rectify the situation.
Although managers don’t want quality levels to slip, they understand to err is human and that you’re not going to be perfect. What they can accept is a person who holds their hands up and attempts to be better as it shows their desire to grow. From a parenting standpoint, making excuses teaches your kids to do the same and they will suffer from the same fate.
How you speak impacts how people listen. For the most part, it’s your pace that will grab a person’s attention or encourage them to stop following the flow of the conversation. The key is to learn when to use different speeds to keep them on the hook and reel them in, and it starts with slowing down. It’s hard to hear and take in the importance of your words when you’re spewing them out like a Tommy gun shoots bullets, so take a breath. Don’t worry about losing them because a slow pace adds emphasis.
Another tip is to stop speaking as there is an art to using silence to your advantage. Again, it adds gravitas because the silence shrouds the point in drama. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have to stop. More importantly, it gives them a chance to think about your words and soak them up. One of the best ways to get people to listen is to speak with authority, and a long pause is a perfect method.
Beware that you need to be able to use these techniques properly or else you might sound as if you’re struggling to maintain their focus. These tips can help you master the art of slowing down and using pauses to captivate your audience.
When you’re excited about a topic and want your audience to take note, you might resort to exaggeration. That way, they’ll do what you tell them to do, and that’s the goal ultimately. The problem with over exaggerating is that it takes away from the emphasis of your words as two things can happen.
Firstly, people will begin to hear what you say and won’t take it seriously. They’ll know you’re going over the top, or judge you from previous experiences, and switch off. Or, and this is worse, they’ll see you as somebody who is akin to a liar. Why? It’s because their definition and yours don’t match up and it turns into a fib from their point of view. And, no one wants to listen to someone who isn’t telling the truth.
A good thing to remember is that exaggeration only builds up a person’s expectations and it might let them down in the long run. Leaders emphasise a point but they let their audience decide on its merits and drawbacks, so you should avoid passing judgement. Stick to offering a helping hand instead, like a kind of wordsmith tour guide.
Knowledge is power but you have to put what you learn into practice. Otherwise, you won’t improve your skills and people still won’t listen to what you have to say. They call it moving one step forward and two steps backwards. The good news is you can use exercises to prevent the muscles from atrophying.
Start by warming up your voice. It’s the engine that keeps the vehicle moving and it will stutter if it’s not properly prepared. Simply drinking a glass of water to clear away the cobwebs and enunciating different words should get the motor running. Another trick is to keep your message in your mind’s eye and not lose sight of it. HAIL is an acronym which acts as an excellent reminder for when things go off-piste.
Also, don’t underestimate the quest for knowledge. A leadership degree online is a perfect tool to learn about how to manage people and communicate effectively. Plus, you’ll figure out how to solve problems and that is a transferable skill that is applicable across the board.
Follow a Mentor
It’s always wise to use a working example to help you to improve, which is why a mentor is a smart idea. Watching not only how they speak but troubleshoot problems mid conversation is a live framework for you to follow and put into practice. Just be sure to pick a person who is a master in the art of conversing and getting their message across. Otherwise, you’ll learn the wrong thing and do more harm than good.
Be positive, don’t go overboard with your message and practice regularly and your ability to capture people’s attention should skyrocket. Of course, it doesn’t happen overnight and you will need to work hard to get the desired results.