Reasons people don’t listen when you speak: There are three reasons. 1st it could be because you aren’t sharing a thought that the other person values or cares about. 2nd it could be because you aren’t conveying certainty when you speak. 3rd it could be because you lost or never had their attention. We cover each of these more in depth in the remaining part of this page. We also cover how to overcome each issue.
You’ve probably had this happen. A friend tells you about a problem they are having. They whine for a few minutes and then pause. Fortunately, you jump in with a solution. But as you start to share, they either walk away or impatiently cut you off before you finish, dismissing your idea before even really hearing it. Why don’t people listen when I talk, you wonder.
Well there are a few reasons friends, acquaintances, or customers don’t listen when you try to persuade or communicate. Today we will tell you why, and how to fix it. Stick around to the end to find out what suspense movies can teach us about keeping people’s attention.
Table of Contents
The 1st Reason People Don’t Listen When You Speak.
The first thing to keep in mind when people don’t listen to what you are saying is the concept of demand. Demand is when people want a thing because of its value. If people aren’t listening to what you have to say, it could be because what you are saying has no value to them. Either find people who value what you have to say, or change what you have to say so it solves a problem the person has. Then when you speak, there will be demand for your words.
Everyone is trying to solve problems everyday. Many are trying to make money, others are trying to feel more confident about themselves, some are working on self improvement. Others are solving more simple problems like purchasing a new family car or shopping for a shirt that will make them look good. The more serious the problem, the more desperately they will search for an answer. If they think you can help, they will listen. In other words, there will be demand for your words.
On the other hand, if you try to convince someone who doesn’t have a serious problem you can help with, you devalue your time and send a signal that you don’t have better things to do. Think of yourself like an expert. True experts don’t waste their time with people who don’t need their skills. This is because they have a line of other people who are desperate for their help. If people aren’t listening, find someone else who needs what you have to offer.
Thus, the first problem to resolve when you are being ignored in social, business, or sales situations, is to ask yourself what problem am I solving for this person. The better the answer, the more likely they will be to listen to you because they demand an answer. Once you know the problem you are solving for the person, make sure you follow the next step, or you could still lose the person’s attention.
The 2nd Reason People Don’t Listen When You Speak.
The second reason people aren’t listening when you speak or persuade, has to do with something called certainty. When people are searching to fix their problems, they desire the benefits of a solution but fear the costs if it doesn’t work out. They want to be certain that their chosen course of action will get them what they want. Make people feel certain that you have the answer to their problems. If people aren’t listening to you, it could be because they aren’t certain that you have good solutions.
To solve this issue, you want to create what scientists call an agentic shift. An agentic shift is when people defer to an authority because the authority makes them feel certain about a course of action. In other words they give up responsibility for deciding their actions to another figure because they believe the other figure knows better. This happens all the time with doctors. When people have a medical issue, they go to see a doctor. Because the doctor understands the body better than the person, the person defers to the doctor and follows their lead. You want this effect present when you start to persuade.
So how do you create an agentic shift? Science lists a few things you can do. First you must appear, sound, and act like an expert in the subject. This means wearing uniforms, having confident posture, removing hesitation from your speech, and eliminating higher pitches. But the number one way to create an agentic shift is to actually be an expert.
Study your field and know it better than others, and this shift will happen naturally when people have an issue. If you are an expert and people don’t respect what you have to say, you need to work on publicizing your successes. You can tactfully tell stories about how you solved similar problems with amazing results. If you’ve done all that and people still don’t listen, there could be one final reason. This particular reason everyone can improve on.
The 3rd Reason People Don’t Listen When You Speak.
The final reason people aren’t paying attention to what you have to say is that you haven’t caught or you’ve lost their attention. Attention is the currency of the modern day and can be used to accomplish many things, socially and financially. So how do you get and keep attention?
We can turn to the masterful Alfred Hitchcock, a famous movie creator. He said that suspense is created by placing a bomb underneath a chair and not telling the characters that it is there. In other words, you make a promise to the audience that you know something important or significant that they don’t. If they keep listening to you, you will tell them. We can modify the techniques used to create suspense in order to help us gain and keep attention.
Now any attempt to gain and hold someone’s attention must come by promising them that you have significant information that they want. But you must make the promise in a certain way. There are many different methods to do this, but start with this simple one. Take the problem that they have and describe the results of eliminating the problem. For example, if they are frustrated that their life is boring, explain how you’ve been losing sleep because of how exciting your week has been. Tell them you will share what you do to make your days appealing.
If you truly found a problem they are experiencing, and the results sound appealing, they will give you their attention. Once you have their attention, delay telling them the whole answer until you are finished speaking. Instead, give them crumb sized pieces of the answer as you speak. Try watching this video back again since I used the same technique to keep you watching.
Now if you have a person’s attention, how do you ensure that what you say actually causes them to do something? Well that is the topic for the next post. So click right here if you want to learn about the most important part of a persuasive pitch.