Have You Noticed Why No One Listens To You?

Every day I am asked to help individuals, teams and organisations to be noticed, to engage their listeners and to be memorable when they speak.

The stark reality is that if people are not listening to you, you’re not interesting enough for them. That’s it. Don’t make excuses, don’t blame them, don’t reframe it, don’t opt out – just hold your hands up and admit that you didn’t get or keep their attention with your words, voice or physicality.

If we want people to take us seriously, to respect us and to engage with us, we have to adapt our communication patterns and styles to grab their attention and generate stimulating conversations.

In my experience this lack of ability to connect often comes down to one of: low confidence, poor content structure, or deficient emotional awareness – sometimes all three!

Gaining confidence is about getting the right advice and finding opportunities to practise. The more often you prove to yourself that your choices were successful, the more confidence you will have to choose them again. The key is to get good advice from proven professionals who will adapt the training to your specific needs. Well-meaning colleagues, relatives or friends may want to share a ‘trick’ that works for them. This doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you; in fact often other people’s tricks can create more anxiety! (I once heard someone say that a good way to get rid of their nerves was to imagine that the ‘butterflies in their stomach’ were being released all over the auditorium. Another person in the group said that this image reminded them of throwing up. Enough said!)

Improving the structure of your message is absolutely vital to get the best possible results; and by results I mean that the audience’s behaviour changes in your favour as a consequence of what you said. In previous articles I have explained that using structures that were popular in the 1980’s are no longer useful. It’s a bit like asking someone to wait near a coin telephone box* at a certain time so that you can call them, when they actually have a mobile phone. Recent discoveries and research in Neuroscience and Emotional Intelligence ensure that we can now structure our messages in contemporary ways that guarantee our listener’s brains are being stimulated and engaged. The laws of Primacy and Recency is one good example of this.

* (For those of you born after 1990 – yes, people used to queue outside phone boxes with handfuls of coins so they could call someone and tell them they were running late!)

Raising emotional awareness is about noticing. Noticing your responses to certain situations and how this makes you feel. More importantly, as a communicator, you must also be able to notice your listener’s responses, both physical and emotional, to what you are saying and adapt your delivery to keep their focus at the highest possible levels. When we work with clients using our Emotional Intelligence (EQ-I 2.0) assessment and coaching programs, we are very specifically looking at all aspects of how you engage with others and yourself. The 15 main areas include: Self Perception, Interpersonal Relationships, Impulse Control, Assertiveness, Self Expression, Self Awareness and Decision Making.

Too often I see organisations who genuinely believe that giving people information about themselves is an accomplished mission in communication. A lot of time and money is dedicated to “the brochure” or “the website” and when these have been published or launched, some believe that the job is done. Worse still, some organisations find it acceptable that their sales teams will ‘present’ the brochure’s information in an attempt to create or increase business. Absolute nonsense. Where’s the connection? Where’s the humanity? Where’s the relationship? Endless research has proven time and time again that people prefer doing business with people they like, they can connect and engage with. This connection doesn’t just arrive by chance – it has to be worked on. Of course if you have a ‘product’ that every body wants and there is no competition this does not apply – but in the real world the very large majority of us are striving to show others how our product, services, idea or ethos is better and will bring benefit to our customers, clients, stakeholders, colleagues, family and friends.

Let me leave you with an example of how a global brand has adapted its products by noticing what their customers want.

What’s the difference between ‘Diet Coke’ and ‘Coke Zero’? Answer: practically nothing. They are both carbonated drinks with water, added flavour, artificial sweeteners – aspartame in Diet Coke, acesulphame potassium in Coke Zero (by the way both toxic to the human body!) preservatives and caffeine. The people at Coca Cola are fully aware that the way they present their product to market can influence different buyers. In  other words they have ‘noticed’ the emotional responses of their potential customers and adapted they way they present to them. Coke Zero is aimed more at men and younger teens, while Diet Coke is aimed at weight-conscious women. Watch the TV commercials and notice the difference!

If you would like help to re-ignite, refresh and fine tune the way you or your team presents to others, give us a call and we’ll help you notice, improve your skills and get results whenever you speak.

© Poll Moussoulides

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Poll Moussoulides publishes his ‘SPEAK’ newsletter for trainers, consultants, coaches, teachers, corporate sales teams, small business owners … and all people who would like get to results whenever they speak. The newsletter is free and contains interviews, articles, exclusive discounts and priority information on courses and events. To join the global newsletter community of thousands, or to find out more, go to http://voicematters.com/newsletter/