Whether it’s in your personal or professional life, it can be incredibly frustrating when it feels as though others are not paying attention and you’re not being heard.  So, let’s take a look at the five major factors that contribute to this issue, and what you can do about it.

Firstly, let’s address the elephant in the room:  who’s really to blame?

The truth is all parties need to share responsibility in communication breakdowns.  While it’s easy to point fingers and blame the other person for not listening, it’s important to recognise that OUR  communication skills play an important role in how others receive our message.  That being the case, here are the key factors:

  1. Distraction
    In today’s world, distractions are everywhere. With social media, email and constant notifications, it’s no wonder that people can struggle to focus on one thing at a time.  If you’re trying to communicate with someone who’s constantly distracted, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to fully absorb your message.
  2. Trust
    It should go without saying, if someone doesn’t trust you, they’re unlikely to listen to what you have to say. Trust is built over time, and if you haven’t established a relationship with someone, it can be difficult to get through.
  3. Different communication styles
    People have different ways of processing information. Some people prefer visual aids, while other prefer a more hands-on approach.  If you’re communicating with someone who has a different communication style than you, getting your message across effectively can be difficult.
  4. Emotional state
    When someone is in a heightened emotional state, it can be difficult for them to listen to what you have to say, even if it is important.
  5. Lack of interest
    Let’s face it, sometimes people just aren’t interested in what you have to say. If someone doesn’t see the value in what you’re communicating, they’re unlikely to give it their full attention.

Now that we’ve identified the major factors, let’s talk about what you can do about it as a manager and leader.  Here are some of my favourite tips for improving communication .

  1. Eliminate distractions
    If you want to communicate with someone, make sure they’re in an environment where you can focus on the conversation…AND put away your phones and laptops! (It also is a sign of mutual respect, and in all meetings and conversations should be a given!)
  2. Build trust
    If you haven’t established trust with someone, take the time to get to know them. Listen to their concerns, be empathetic, and show them that you care.  When people trust you, they’re more likely to listen to what you have to say (…not forgetting more likely to tell YOU things you may otherwise not hear!).
  3. Adapt to their communication style
    If you’re communicating with someone who has a different communication style than you, try to adapt to their style.  (If you need help in this area, we can show you how.)
  4. Defuse and calm
    If someone is emotionally charged or upset, acknowledge their feelings and try to help them calm down before continuing the conversation. Show empathy and validate their feelings, but also try to steer the conversation towards a more productive direction.
  5. Make it relevant
    If you want someone to listen to what you have to say, make sure it’s relevant to them. Understand their needs and interests and frame your message in a way that speaks to them.

Finally, there are times when it’s simply — best — to — let — go.  If you’ve tried everything and someone still isn’t listening, it may be time to re-evaluate the situation.

Here at Rapport Leadership, we consider communication and listening skills so important to leadership success they are a key element of our many of our other training programs.

If you’d like to learn more about ways you can boost your team and leadership performance through effective communication, get in touch today for a confidential chat.

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