I know I do sometimes, and I’m a professional speaker! Our modern life is so full of distractions that it’s hard to gain anyone’s attention, much less hold it.
But the problem could be more than the fact that people are not very good listeners. It could be that you’re not doing your part.
Here are some tips to help you get people to listen to you.
One of the most important things is to get to the point and stick to it. In our hectic world, people don’t like to listen to someone ramble on. So plan what you are going to say and then say it exactly that way. Be very direct and don’t beat around the bush.
I find it helpful to quickly jot down what I am going to say in bullet form or as numbers. This is especially important when you are leaving someone a message on their voice mail. Say something like, “I have three things I need to discuss with you. And then go quickly through the one, two and three. Don’t get sidetracked.
Avoid exaggerating. Just state the facts and let the listeners draw their own conclusions.
Be sure to speak in a normal tone of voice. If you sound alarmed, secretive, depressed or too excited, it will detract from the message itself. Your tone of voice is 38 percent of your message. If it is not working for you, even good listeners will misinterpret your message.
Push their “hot buttons.” Everybody is tuned into radio station WIIFM – what’s in it for me. Tie your message to what’s in it for them and what it has to do with them. Everyone is just too busy to listen to things that have nothing to do with their concerns.
Be aware of what form people want to receive information. Some like ideas presented verbally, others written over email or in memo form. Find out how they like it and then deliver it to them that way.
Don’t state the obvious or repeat yourself. If you absolutely need to repeat what you said, try to say the same thing in a different way. People have little patience with those who tell them what they already know. If you feel you must repeat yourself because you feel that they are not “getting it,” it may be that they are poor listeners and are just not giving you any feedback.
Ask for feedback. Ask questions like ‘What do you think?” “Am I right?” or other similar phrases. If the listener can’t add to the conversation, it’s usually a clue that either they aren’t listening or don’t understand what you are saying.
Choose the right time and place to present your ideas. Timing is everything. If you are trying to present your ideas in a poor listening environment like a loud restaurant, you are in for a tough time. Likewise, don’t try to present an idea when someone is obviously harried, hurried or in a bad mood.
Use examples and present evidence. Be sure to back up your statements with facts an, evidence or testimony if applicable.
If you sense that someone is not listening, stop talking. Let two or three seconds tick away. The other person hears this pause and gets back to listening.
And finally, try a change of pace. Stand up, lean back or forward, gesture or ask a question. This should bring the listener back to reality.
Try some of these tips before your next conversation, see if you have a better outcome.
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