How to Get People to Actually Hear and Pay Attention to What You Have to Say

It’s what everyone wants when they speak. To be heard is all we ask. And in fact, it shouldn’t be that difficult, but we make it so often. When we forget that other people also have lives and schedules, we often choose inconvenient times or locations.

We press on, however, hoping that some of our message would eventually sink in. Nothing we’ve ever learned in “Effective Communications 101” has prevented us from shouting, interrupting, and completing each other’s sentences.

A simple “Is now okay to talk?” can alleviate some tension, but the real problem lies in unmet expectations. While not exclusive to men, many men hold the view that they must promptly express themselves whenever they have something to say.

This is a male-dominated industry, thus guys are usually the ones to take center stage. According to Sylvia Mikucki-Enyart, an associate professor of communication studies at the University of Iowa, “they demand to be listened to.”

That kind of demeanor does not strike a friendly tone. There are, of course, things you can do practically to improve your communication, but the most significant change is in how you approach the problem. It’s more helpful to consider communication not as passive reception but as a two-way street in which either participant can steer the conversation in any given direction. When you adopt such a frame of mind, the pressure to finish quickly fades away.

Where is it, and how can I get there? It will assist if you consider the following.

Show a Willingness to Hear

Nothing about this is shocking. To be heard, you must first make yourself heard. Yes, it’s polite, but you’re not just saying the right things so you can get out of here. It includes the other person. Even if you’re close, there needs to be a connection for that time for them to feel like they’re a part of it.

Professor emeritus of interpersonal relations at Ohio University, Bill Rawlins, says, “There’s no better way to do that than to listen to someone else.”

And it’s not simple because you want to say something so badly. What needs to be done is not a secret. The key is training yourself not to talk and then stopping yourself when you do.

In other words, “it’s always a dedication,” as Rawlins puts it.

Keeping an eye out for “Kitchen Sinking”

When you haven’t yet worked out what you want to say, you may end up speaking incoherently. This is what Mikucki-Enyart refers to as “kitchen sinking.” Speaking your lines aloud will help you see which words are essential and which may be eliminated. The first time you say something is never the first time, since you’ll get used to the emotion and the intensity will decrease.

If it helps, write down the points you want to make and any reminders you need to keep your cool or refrain from interrupting. Communicate your desire to not forget anything to the other person directly. All of this preparation for a business encounter would go unquestioned.

“I don’t know why we expect our relational communications to fly by the seat of our pants,” she reflects.

Practice Pausing

Communicating effectively includes periods of silence. You should let the other person speak, but more importantly, you should give them time to process what you’ve said and decide how they want to respond. Rawlins describes this as “not trying to formulate your next sterling moment in the conversation,” which is another sort of listening.

The delay, though, is not without its uses. Here is your chance to reflect on what has been stated, which may cause you to modify your original message. Simply express what you’re thinking to the other person. People may become nervous in complete silence, and what is actually an inhalation may be misunderstood as anger or boredom. Ask the other person to clarify anything that seems unclear, and you can both save time and avoid confusion.

According to Mikucki-Enyart, “it’s perception checking.”

Accept the “Vivid Present”

Most men have a tendency to make up their minds. Michael Jordan is unrivaled. There has never been a better film than The Godfather. However, talking to someone face to face involves both of you and happens in real time. While rehearsal can make you feel more at ease, the performance itself will not follow a script. Celebrate the similarities between the two of you instead of just accepting them.

According to Rawlins, the “vivid present” is what Austrian philosopher Alfred Schutz referred to in that time frame. The conversation will no longer be a battle for time or attention if you make a remark about the weather, the color of the walls, or the traffic.

Nothing belongs to either of us, as Rawlins puts it. As in, “It’s between us.”

The best thing to do is to ask questions as you go. What are your thoughts on the recent events? I’m curious to hear your reaction to what I just said. Most people enjoy being asked questions. They give individuals a chance to express themselves; conversations that can’t be ended with a simple “yes” or “no” are invitations to continue participation.

Recognize the Uniqueness of Each Interaction

Effective communication is not innate. “It’s not a trait,” Mikucki-Enyart insists. They can be taught and practiced, but each time you have a discussion, you have that conversation. It calls for a reorientation of attention and concentration. It’s possible that you need to get something off your chest. You might use some help. The same holds true for the other individual. It’s similar to how one approaches, say, music or sports. What worked yesterday may not work today, therefore you need to put in the time and effort to understand the environment.

“You need to re-consecrate yourself,” Rawlins advises. You must appear. It’s largely a matter of determination. Every experience has the potential to teach us something.

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