Have you ever heard that or even said that? Perhaps you were talking about your employees or maybe even your children?
If you have ever been exasperated because you felt ignored, dismissed, misinterpreted or not heard, you are not alone. The reason it is so frustrating is because you probably think there is nothing you can do about it. After all, it is the other person’s listening that is the problem. What can you do? Actually, there is a lot you can do to impact the listening of others
If you want people to listen to you (and truly hear you) you have to give them a reason and just because you are talking is NOT a good enough reason. You may have the thought, “They should listen to me; I’m their boss (or mother or whatever).” Except people rarely do what we think they should do. People do what they do. If you are not getting the result you want, i.e., someone not listening to you, it is YOUR JOB to change that.
There are two main components to getting people listen to you. The first is understanding that people listen to find out why they should care. In other words, “Is what I am hearing relevant or important to me?” We are inundated with information on a daily basis. There is only so much we can give our attention to. Our brains filter through the information looking for what’s most pertinent to our concerns.
Secondly, you have to get curious about what’s important to the person or people you are speaking to. Not why YOU think they should care about what you are saying. Ask them what’s important to them. Find out their perspective. Then help them to connect the dots between what you are communicating and their concerns.
For example, if you have an employee who is frequently late to meetings and you want to change their behavior so they are on time, you must first think about why their being on time would be important to them. If you approach them only from your perspective, i.e., let’s say, you think it’s disruptive when someone enters the meeting late, it won’t necessarily change their behavior over the long term. Instead, find out what they care about. Do they care about the impression they are making? Are they interested in moving up in the company? Are they considerate of others and perhaps unaware of the impact being late has on the team?
Once you know what the employee’s concerns are you can easily frame your communication so you are heard. For example, saying something like, “Joe, I remember you telling me that you hope to be promoted to a management position, is that still true? I just wanted to give you some feedback. When you are late to meetings it creates a negative impression that could be detrimental to your being promoted. How can I support you in being on time to meetings?”
Effective communication begins and ends with you. If you want to be heard, you have to learn how to communicate in a way that’s worth hearing.
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