16 Reasons People Don’t Listen When You Speak
Uncertainty promotes apathy.
“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (KJV 1900)
16 reasons people don’t listen when you speak:
- Too many words. You’re a yapping lap dog.
- Ignorance. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Confused leaders lead confused organizations.
- Dancing. You don’t get to the point. Minds wander when your words wander.
- No follow through. You have a track record of not following through.
- No goal or higher purpose. There’s no meaning.
- No call to action. No one knows what you want if you don’t.
- Disconnected values. What matters to you doesn’t matter to them.
- Whining but no solutions or action. Don’t complain if you don’t plan to act.
- No resolve. You don’t mean what you say.
- Drama. You yelled, “The sky is falling,” when it wasn’t.
- Speaking before listening or without preparation.
- No passion. You don’t care about what you’re saying. If you don’t care, stop talking now.
- No love. You don’t care for the people you’re speaking to.
- You don’t take others seriously. Expect your words to roll off their back when their words roll of yours. Take others seriously if you expect them to take you seriously.
- It’s all about you and not about them. You’re a self-absorbed bore. Start with them not you.
- Disconnection. You just stepped out of your ivory tower to address the huddled masses.
Don’t expect enthusiastic responses to ambiguous messages.
Which reason why people don’t listen is the most devastating?
How do successful leaders speak so people listen?
When leaders speak and it’s obvious they haven’t walked and helped in the trenches, I completely disengage and lose all enthusiasm for their goals.
Thanks James. If we haven’t grabbed an oar, our call to others to grab oars will likely fall on deaf ears. Powerful — Model the way.
Ditto, Dan and James. If you want to be listened TO and engaged by others, listen and engage WITH them first. And, regularly! Get and stay in the trenches with your “people” enough to really GET where they’re at – and what they’re REALLY dealing with!
I tend to align with James, however there are individuals who have an “aura” if you will, that get your attention and they have a tremendous knowledge base (Can be book smarts) without being in the trenches that will sail and help guide your journey. Granted experience speaks a lot about someone too!
Thanks Tim. I hear you saying that we listen to those who seem to have expertise. Which leads me to conclude that we should know what we’re talking about. 🙂 Doesn’t it sound so simple?
Yes you really should know your “Dance “before you go on stage!
Now there’s a thought.
There could be many reasons why people do not listen when you speak. Reasons could be hierarchy feeling, showing self importance and self created grudges etc. The whole case is about mindset and fear. People naturally tend to create a framework to measure others. They overestimate who they like or who belong to their category. Fear prevails,when they fear of being exposed when others are allowed to listen to. People desirous of showing self importance generally follow such practices. when you question such people, they start creating distance because they know, they can not address your issues.
I agree with you that such people often do not have goals. They believe in keeping others down so that they can be up. They define success by position in narrow area. They are zero or less effective beyond that area. Successful leaders believe in lifting others. They do not have hunger to show their importance. They believe making others important. Those who do not generally listen suffer from low tolerance. They do not like to listen about their weaknesses. And that is why they do not allow others to speak and when you suggest them, they will not accept it.
But, not listening to you is more of a biased approach which is self-created. People believing in such ideology are empty headed, shallow and show superficial knowledge.
Thanks Dr. Gupta. I’m glad you added insights that suggest not listening is about others as well as us. That’s another whole side to the topic. One everyone who communicates needs to consider.
The little phrase “they define success by position…” is golden.
Many people (if not most) have lost the skill of listening to remember. We are no longer an oral and aural society. When information traveled by word of mouth we had to really pay attention and remember well. Now we can go look it up or [shudder] google it. As leaders we need to help people listen well by helping them focus on what is most important. If we randomly speak, they will randomly remember. If we focus our words, hone our delivery, and repeat what is essential they will remember.
Thanks Sean. It’s easier to listen if we focus on what’s important. Bingo! Focus matters. Your sentence… If we randomly speak they will randomly listen, really kicks it.
I started writing down my favorite one and when I counted how many I had……. I had 16. Thanks for putting these reminders together.
Guilty as charged with 16 counts of boring. My sentence – a short one filled with meaning, with no possibility of parole.
Thanks Dunk. One of the things I thought about while writing this post was how much I talked during yesterday’s lunch with a leader. Doh!!
Dan, I enjoy your blog a lot. This was a great post that will probably (it should) speak a lot to everyone who has even been or is in a position of leadership and is dealing with people.
Dan,You are absolutely right with your 16 points.it will be more impactful if you maximise just 7 points
I find people don’t listen when you haven’t earned their respect. But then again, that’s not an easy thing to do since it takes time. Unless you’re a risk taker, then you can probably shorten that period.
Anyway, I’ve noticed that if you don’t have respect and you want to be heard it seems to be helpful to let other people talk. And when they do, listen. Seems that’s one of the first steps to getting respect.
Great point, Jean. Not everyone is a wordsmith or sublime orator but leaders that hope to get their entire message across can borrow a little Svengali or PT Barnum to get the audience interested and focused. Speaking does have an artistic element to it.
Some speakers expect the group to do all the work. I believe that the speaker should not only be passionate about the topic, but they need to demonstrate that passion. I’m really fortunate to have had people tell me ‘it’s obvious you love your job’. I have also heard someone say as they were leaving a presentation given by a colleague ‘It was clear that she just didn’t want to be here’.
As a Nurse Educator, I find that people appreciate it when I pose questions rather than impose answers. People tend to engage and listen if they feel that the speaker knows their stuff and is really interested in the views of the group.
Too many words! Yes we need to get to the point and say it! This is a problem that many of suffer from. Just spit it out.
Really like this post. Took notes on the opposite implications. Some I have in practice already, others I could use some work on. Will read these daily.
Post is great an agree with all the comments! Want to add, the leadership should also know their audience and recognize when they are speaking to the quiet introvert or the raring to go extrovert, it’s important to speak to both in ways they individually listen.
Healthcare Leadership Search Consultant
Silver Oak Search Consultants, Inc.
Great post Dan and I agree completely with the ‘understand what’s going on in the trenches’ take on this. Few observations from my experience of doing and watching senior leaders ‘communicating’.
1. As posted here – the art of listening is not prioritised as a skill set and mindset. Many leaders love an audience, it feeds their narcissistic need to be loved. Listening requires one to be present and to be attentive to the needs of others , secondary to your own. My wife is a therapist and I have learnt a huge amount from her in terms of active listening. Authentic.
2. Personalisation – stopping to think about what is going on for the people you lead , not just in work but 24/7 , is surely the foundation for connecting to others? I often observe leaders making crass comments about what is important to them, failing to understand how disconnected this makes them appear to an individual or group. Wake up leaders it’s your job to know what is dominating the thoughts of your people. Very challenging but spin the wellbeing wheel with any of us on any given day and it’s unlikely to be the latest mission statement.
3. Get tactical – as posted here, the ability to feel the frontline is essential. It can generate great anecdotes, stories and reality checks back on the top corridor. Take a quick look across the last decades crises to see how a failure to connect at a tactical level creates poor decision making. I work in policing and this is THE NUMBER ONE challenge facing leaders who are faced with no zero risk options any more. From Risk management to risk intelligent requires senior people to understand the reality.
Great conversation !
I’ve had several instances when I’m conversing with someone and as soon as another person approaches, they will divert their attention from our conversation and begin talking with the other person. This absolutely frustrates me to no end….especially when I’ve asked a question of the person and never get a response. Nor will they apologize or ask if they can resume the conversation later. Instead, they wander off as if a discussion between the two of us never happened. I don’t consider myself a blabber mouth and always make a point to look at others when they’re talking, allow them to finish speaking, and then respond or converse. Unfortunately, I’m not shown the same courtesy and I can’t figure out why. I’ve even had family members do this to me. It is soooo rude!!! It makes me feel like I have nothing important to say or that I’m irrelevant. As such, I’ve told myself that I will not tolerate it anymore. Next time it happens, I’m calling the person out on their rudeness no matter who’s around. I’m done with self-centered pricks who think they’re more important.
yea that happens to me as well at times and i do the same how you do i respect them and listen all the right things i do when listening but when its the other way around they do the same thing to me … i would be interested into what others thought about this as well because my case is similar to yours??…. one thing i have noticed though alot of the people that do it to me are simpletons that dont want to show me respect in that form of fashion because when we’re all around others in a social gathering they wanna seem as if around those new comers that they are a more important person then you it makes you look like u seek their time/ attention/ approval… but any ways its their only way for them to feel that their more relevant then you or at least 2 seem that way in front of others… i also noticed its jealous tendencies as well sometimes if they feel like you a succeeding in the world or they know some of your goals or passions.. I noticed when i ask those people who dont show respect to me when listening… next time ask them randomly in casual convo what their goals or passions are to be in life ask them what their direction is in life… and you’ll find those same people have no sense of direction & dont know what they want to be in life or maybe they do but they feel stuck working some Bull shit job and dont actually pursue their goals… it works every time i realize they in a sense fear you & u have more leadership qualities then they do or they try to act like they do because in return they fear your own presence sub consciously because it kind of exposes them & makes them see them selfs face value for what they have done in the world to accomplish ….. But this is my in take some traits i noticed people have in common with ones who dont listen …. i would be interested in any other opinions form any others or if u have stuff to add to this as well feel free???
It’s all about you and not about them. You’re a self-absorbed bore. Start with them not you.
I can literally be telling my parents about how I almost got in a crazy car accident cause of this dumb driver not stopping at a stop sign and they won’t respond at all. Not a single word..
Well this was no help 🙁
Usually when my friends have a conversation about something in P.E., I’m wanting to play with them you know? So when I teach them how to play, they either stare at other games and talk or walk away 🙁 I promise I know what I was talking about but I feel like I don’t matter to them 😞 This is why I stay quiet and usually on my phone almost all the time. What do I do?
I just go blah blah blah when they talk.
Is that annoying?….
So is not letting me talk.
unfortunately not everybody *wants* to listen to *understand* they listen to *respond* and due to their misunderstanding communication falters; communication is a two way street however when someone doesn’t participate well all you can do is move on…
I can think of about 5 of the above reasons befitting your comment, and if “just move on” is an acceptable outcome to your persuasion/conversation then you shouldn’t engage in talking or expressing yourself.
Thank you for sharing this I have a learning disability the type is call expressive and receptive disorder it’s a communication disorder I’m not a manager or a boss I feel that way all the time when I open my mouth at work I was my kitchen lend wants to be everyone friend rather be the kitchen lead I work in a school kitchen with all women one man
I would include one more “when the accent you have makes people want to make them kill themselves (exagerated of course….) this cab be because of the sound of your speed or any other reason resulting in a difficult time following you during a conversation.
I have learning disabilities and sometimes forget words even forgot my own name once. I have above average IQ but i find people stop listing to me when i struggle to talk.
A lot of people don’t listen because they just don’t know how too, have too much on their minds or don’t know how to be present or are extremely narcissistic. It can be very frustrating for the speaker.
It’s not right to blame the person who is clear and articulate.
Nobody takes my words seriously no matter what I think. People think they’re smarter than me, and that’s fine. But it gets annoying when they disregard my opinion because they think they’re the next Hawking (Rest in Peace). I try to listen to people and let them talk more so they’re happy, but now they don’t listen to me at all. Granted, I don’t hold people in high regards because most of them have been assholes to me, but not listening to somebody because you perceive them as stupid is just that, stupid. I want to be able to be social (I like telling fun facts because I like fun facts but people think I’m being condescending), but I want people to listen to me. I’m sorry for ranting at you. Do you have any good ideas?
This honestly lowers my self-esteem but thanks for the effort…