Why Nobody is Listening When You Talk


Remember that time you had a great idea? You shared it with the group, but nobody seemed to listen. A few days, maybe even weeks, go by and someone else brings up your idea. Everybody jumps on it. It's like something new and shiny that they've never heard before. Do you remember how you felt when that happened?

I do. And I can say that it wasn't good. I asked myself why. I wanted to know why I wasn't being heard. Why my ideas weren't good enough when I shared them, but they were great when someone else said the exact same thing.

Perhaps it was because I wasn't assertive in my delivery so nobody took me seriously. Perhaps it was because my sentence sounded more like a question, with my voice going higher at the end, eroding any power behind my statement. Perhaps it was because nobody was actually listening when I spoke. 

When you feel like you are being over-looked or under-appreciated, it comes down to one thing: confidence. Your own self-confidence. If you don't believe in yourself and what you are saying, nobody else will either. It's an internal switch that you need to flip before you ever walk into the room.

So, how do you make sure you are heard the next time? You need to find your voice. Sounds easy enough, but in reality it can be quite tricky.

First, you need to know where you stand on the issue or matter at hand. What's your personal perspective? Make a list of all the reasons why you believe something and all the reasons why you think the other way of thinking about it is incorrect (kind of like a pros and cons list). This way, when anybody asks you to defend your position, and that will eventually happen, you are know why you are standing firm.

Second, build rapport. People don't listen to other people they don't know. Why should they? Introduce yourself. Let them get to know you and help them understand why they should be listening when you speak.

Third, know your audience. What do you know about them? Are they senior leaders, colleagues or potential clients? Whom you are speaking with matters as it will help you craft your message. If what you are saying doesn't resonate or isn't relevant to them, they won't listen. Make sure that whatever you say matters to them. Figure out what will make them listen.

Fourth, practice your pitch. Worried you'll speak to softly and nobody will hear hear? Or are you afraid that your words will come out sing-songy and undermine your credibility? Jot down 3 -5 bullet points about the topic at hand and practice at home in front of the mirror. Imagine you are in that real-life situation. Your audience is sitting across the table from you. What do you want to say? How are you going to say it? Practice so that when you get your chance you feel calm, collected and in control rather than panicky, frazzled and overwhelmed.

Next, boost your confidence. Look in the mirror and tell yourself how capable you are. Every day, write a list of 5 - 10 reasons why you are the best person for the job. Listen to music that excites you. Pop on a podcast or video that inspires you. Do whatever it takes to make you feel as though you can do this. Sometimes, you need to fake it 'til you make it. Until you wake up believing that you can do this, you need to trick your mind that you are ready. Eventually, you'll believe it (as you should!).

Finally, you put it all together. Figure out how to say what you need to say in a way that feels authentic to you while also resonating with your audience.

You know your message is powerful. You know what you need to say will make an impact. It's time for people to take you seriously. To listen when you speak and to realize that you are providing the answer to the problem. Because you can. And you will. It's time.