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Interpersonal relationships

7 Ways to Make Sure People Listen to You

Lakhovsky: The Convesation; oil on panel (Бесе...

Lakhovsky: The Convesation; oil on panel (Беседа), 51.1 x 61.3 cm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know the type.

We’ve all had unpleasant experiences with someone who talks about everything but doesn’t say anything. The woman who is always butting into other people’s conversations, swearing she knows just the answer to every problem. Or the guy who feels the need to tell you every detail of his day as if he’s The Most Interesting Man in the World.

It’s frustrating and downright irritating. Holding a conversation with this kind of person is a futile attempt, like trying to cross a six lane highway in the middle of rush hour. Blindfolded.

And what do we do? Well, if you’re anything like me, you give up on holding any kind of meaningful discourse and tune that person out.

Word to the wise: Don’t be that kind of person.

In my day job I talk to a lot of people and hold a lot of conversations. Some I find fully engaging and totally intriguing, others I’d rather rub hot peppers in my eyes than have to listen to another word.

Here are seven ways to avoid being tuned out and to make sure that people listen to you when you talk:

1. Don’t dominate a conversation. Dialogue is a two-sided coin. People don’t engage you to listen to you talk. Ask questions. Seek advice. Make sure the conversation is balanced.

2. Make sure the other person is actually interested in what you have to say. Not everyone is as enthralled with the nuances of local government as you are. Face the fact that you’re job isn’t as interesting to other people as it is to you. Don’t blather on about something just because it interests you.

3. Generally speaking, offer advice only when it’s asked for. Understand that if someone wants your opinion she’ll ask for it. If it’s not asked for, it’s best not to give it. Or ask first before giving it.

4. Only join a conversation in-progress if invited. Don’t assume you’re part of a conversation just because you happen to be in earshot of the dialogue. And don’t perform a hostile takeover of a conversation because you need to talk to one of the persons involved. Wait your turn. This is just good manners.

5. Know when to say when. Pay attention to the other person’s body language and know when they’ve had enough of your voice. If they appear distracted, annoyed, if they keep glancing at their watch or make a move for the door, take the hint and wrap up your thought.

6. Listen to what the other person has to say. Usually, someone doesn’t want to listen to what you have to say if you show no interest in whay he has to say.

7. Lastly, mind the old adage: better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. When in doubt, assume it’s best just to be quiet and keep your thoughts or opinions to yourself.

Question: Any other suggestions to bear in mind?


About michaelkingbooks

I write stories of faith and family, love and loss, heartache and triumph. Here I blog about faith, relationships, and genuine living.


6 thoughts on “7 Ways to Make Sure People Listen to You

  1. This can be really challenging at a writer’s group. LOL We ALL want to talk about our writing. It reminds me of the joke: How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb? Forget the lightbulb, let me tell you about my book. ;o)

    Posted by anemulligan | April 25, 2012, 9:05 am
  2. Thank you for sharing this wisdom. I needed it today. Silence seems to be calling me to it’s dwelling place. 🙂

    Posted by Linda | April 25, 2012, 9:10 am
  3. Mike – always a good thing for us to remember. I’ve always worked on the premise we all like talking about ourselves so take an interest in someone by asking questions (as per your first point) and you’ll spend the majority of the time listening. Men in particular love talking about their jobs.

    Posted by Ian | April 26, 2012, 3:05 am
  4. Good reminders. I listened to a video recently of Anne Lammott where she described using the acronymn W.A.I.T. to help with her talking/listening skills. It stood for: Why Am I Talking? We’ve adopted it at my house.

    Posted by goldenprayerbear | April 26, 2012, 10:15 am

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