Why does no one listen to me?
Have you ever felt that people don’t listen to you while you speak or just thought to yourself “No one listens to me, what am I doing wrong?” You must’ve often felt that there’s no point expressing when it feels like you’re talking to a wall.
Well, there are numerous reasons why such situations occur, but to give you the shortest answer possible, it’s the lack of listening or clarity of speech on someone’s part. People often tend to listen to others to reply and not to understand. It’s also possible that people are not listening to you because you might be the problem. But, we’ll help you identify those problems and give you just the tips you need to correct them.
It isn’t always possible to tailor our speeches and arguments according to the audience and topic at hand, but this can lead others to not listen to us. Listening effectively is as important a skill as speaking effectively, in fact, they are interdependent. You cannot separate one from the other.
There are several communication mistakes you can make while speaking, that make people shut their ears and brains off to you. In this piece, we’re primarily focusing on issues from the speaker’s end by answering the question “why no one listens to me?” and ways to make people listen.
1. You ramble and lack direction
People tend to get carried away while speaking and end up speaking more than what’s needed. It’s a common mistake which is like chasing a rabbit trail where you lack proper flow and direction. This often leads to you deviating from the topic at hand or going into several directions at once, making it difficult for the listener to follow. This lack of a clear direction can make the listener disinterested in what you have to say. I mean would you be interested in listening to someone who just goes around in circles without a point?
But don’t worry, because it’s not a difficult mistake to fix. The best way to make sure your speech stays on track is to prepare it beforehand. Figure out your purpose and how you want to attain it so that you don’t lose the listener mid-way. Most people suggest that you outline your speech, in order to not miss out on any important elements and stay on track. Just the way an artist would start by making an outline of their sketch, a speaker should start by creating an outline of the main points, sub-points, examples, etc
2. You lack clarity
The second reason why people are not listening to you is that you aren’t sure of what you’re saying, that is, you lack clarity of speech. Firstly, it’s the lack of understanding and secondly, it’s the lack of clear communication. It’s hard to make others listen to you when you aren’t clear about your thoughts. And it’s even harder when you can’t communicate those thoughts in a simple, structured, and concise manner for others to follow. It’s possible that you’re speaking too fast or pausing too much, find more about the ideal rate of speech here.
Communication is more than just saying words. It’s essential that you care for the listener and make sure they get the message. To combat clarity of thoughts, get into the habit of making notes. This will help you evaluate your arguments and understand them better. And to work on the clarity of your speech delivery, try using simple language instead of puffing up your arguments with jargon and complexities. Also, work on your pace, accent, pronunciation, and diction. Confidence comes easily if you’re calm so try these.
3. You lack confidence
Marcus Garvey once said, “with confidence, you have won before you have started” and truer words have never been spoken. We’ve often heard the question “how to be confident in public speaking” being asked because the lack of confidence can break your speech and make you invisible to your audience or colleagues, even if your words are great. If the listener feels that you lack confidence in your words, then it’s a given that they won’t have confidence in them either. Imagine you’re listening to someone speak about Artificial Intelligence, but they constantly contradict their statements, do you think you’ll listen to them after a while?
Once you’re confident, you can focus on what’s important, the content. It’s better to speak less with conviction than to speak more without confidence. It takes time to develop confidence in public speaking and presentations. Start by making sure that you speak clearly, loudly, and within your expertise.
4. You only speak for yourself
Along with asking yourself “why no one listens to me?” also ask yourself “Am I speaking for everyone or just myself?” Speaking after taking everyone into account doesn’t come naturally to most and thus, a blunder that you can make is speaking only from your point of view without considering others. Effective communication is only possible if all parties involved feel involved, hence, when you only speak for yourself, it can lead to fading interest as well as reduced attention. Your communication needs to factor in how it’ll affect or impact others, and how your audience or colleagues are involved. For example, if you’re discussing a possible marketing proposal with your team, you need to talk of everyone’s roles and ask for everyone’s inputs rather than just your own.
This can be remedied by making your discussions interactive and not authoritative. It’s important to engage others in your speech or argument and take their feedback. Make it a point to be empathetic while speaking, it’ll help people connect with you and listen to you attentively. Try including what the person you are talking to said in your responses and make sure you clarify things you don’t understand. A simple, “Yes, I see your point about X” or an “I don’t know much about Y so can you explain that to me” can go a long way. Listening is an important aspect of communication too, we’ll come to that later.
5. Your body language and words don’t match
Body language includes your posture, your facial expressions, and your hand gestures, and can hugely impact whether someone listens to you or not. On one hand, if used properly, it can add strength to your verbal message and improve it manifold. On the other hand, if you lack energy, have a stiff posture, and are expressionless, it can make the listener disinterested and possibly bored. In fact, studies show that your words only convey about 7% of what you’re trying to say. The other 93% is communicated through facial expressions and the tone of your voice.
To make sure your body language and words don’t go in different directions, you just need to make sure that you are interested in what you’re speaking. It’s also a good idea to maintain proper posture and gesture with hands to add visuals to your speech. I’ll be making a video on various postures and gestures soon so hit the subscribe button and click the bell icon to get notified about it when it arrives.
6. You’re not open-minded and are interruptive
Sometimes the answer to your ‘why no one listens to me’, can be “You don’t listen to them.” Finally, being open-minded is a valuable part of good communication, and people tend to forget that. So, one reason why someone isn’t listening to you can be because you are not open to other ideas, are interruptive, and aren’t a great listener yourself. You’ll eventually lose the attention of a person whose views you don’t take into consideration. If you show a lack of interest or interrupt the other person, you’ll get the same in return.
People like getting attention, hence, you need to give it to them. That’s the only way to avoid this mistake. You can improve your patience by making sure that you let the other person finish their point before you start yours. Even if you disagree with someone’s ideas you should know that they still cherish them. So listen and then you can express yourself in response. A quick and easy way to disagree amicably is to say “I understand your views on X. I think about it differently. Would you be open to hearing an alternative viewpoint?” This will make sure that you don’t sound dismissive and makes the person more receptive, making it easier to convince them. (Optional: The worst case is that they say that they aren’t open to listening. To which you can just say ” Well, then Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it.”)
These were just a few mistakes that can make your speeches unheard but you can always change that. It can be really discouraging when you’re not being heard, may it be at work or otherwise. Now you know how to make people listen to you, right? So stop thinking ‘no one listens to me’ and start working on changing that.
If you want to know what types of public speaking careers are out there, check this out!